The first wearable, flexible monitoring system could completely scan the biochemical reactions and electrical signals running inside one's body.
The Chem-Phys patch, engineered at the University of California San Diego, records electrocardiogram (EKG) heart signals and tracks levels of lactate, a biochemical that is a marker of physical effort, in real time.
‘The Chem-Phys patch can record electrocardiogram (EKG) heart signals as well as track levels of lactate, a biochemical that is a marker of physical activity.
The device can be worn on the chest and communicates wirelessly with a smartphone, smart watch or laptop. It could have a wide range of applications, from athletes monitoring their workouts to physicians monitoring patients with heart disease.Nanoengineers and electrical engineers worked together to build the device, which includes a flexible suite of sensors and a small electronic board. The device also can transmit the data from biochemical and electrical signals via Bluetooth.
"One of the overarching goals of our research is to build a wearable tricorder-like device that can measure simultaneously a whole suite of chemical, physical and electrophysiological signals continuously throughout the day," Patrick Mercier said. "This research represents an important first step to show this may be possible."The patch was tested on three male subjects, who wore the device on their chest, near the base of their sternum, while doing 15 to 30 minutes of intense activity on a stationary bike. Two of the subjects also wore a commercial wristband heart rate monitor.
The data collected by the EKG electrodes on the patch closely matched the data collected by the commercial wristband. The data collected by the lactate biosensor follows closely data collected during increasing intensity workouts in other studies. The study appeared in Nature Communications
Next steps include improving the way the patch and the board are connected and adding sensors for other chemical markers, such as magnesium and potassium, as well as other vital signs. Physicians working with Wang and Mercier are also excited about the possibility of analyzing the data from the two signals and see how they correlate.