Researchers develop wearable sweat sensor that can diagnose diseases

The device will aim to help treat cystic fibrosis and prediabetes
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A wearable sensor developed by researchers at Stanford University and UC Berkeley can diagnose diseases by tracking sweat.

The fitness tracker style device aims to monitor diseases such as cystic fibrosis and prediabetes by measuring molecular constituents of sweat, like chloride ions and glucose, with testing recently taking place on a group of volunteers.

Read this: Hydration monitoring explained

During this phase, the sensor was able to distinguish the difference between between those with cystic fibrosis and healthy participants.

So what's the tech behind it? Well, through the use of the device's flexible sensors and microprocessors, it's able to detect sweat containing more chloride, since this generates a higher electrical voltage at the surface. High chloride levels can be an sign of cystic fibrosis, while high blood glucose levels is an indication of diabetes.

Researchers hope that the sensor may one day be used to aid drug development and personalisation within cystic fibrosis — a disease that can be difficult to treat.

More testing is now needed to establish whether it could act as an everyday sensor, with sweat levels determined by a myriad of factors. However, this would initially appear a quicker and more attractive alternative to analysing this area.

It also isn't the first wearable developed by Stanford and Berkeley that's harnessed sweat detection for health benefits. Just last year, teams at both institutions created a wearable sensor that can analyse sweat and deliver the biometric data to a smartphone in real time.

Researchers develop wearable sweat sensor that can diagnose diseases

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Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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