A research team from Tokyo University of Science has developed a novel sweat sensor to continuously monitor lactate, which helps predict muscle fatigue.
what it’s about
In a study, researchers address a common problem with existing microfluidic technologies: when monitoring sweat biomarkers, microfluidic channels tend to trap air bubbles, disrupting the measurement.
The design proposed by TUS researchers uses a larger sweat reservoir. Isao Shitanda, associate professor at TUS, explained: “By increasing the reservoir in the microfluidic channel, a space of about four microliters was created to catch air bubbles entering the device and thus prevent them from touching the electrodes of the sensor.”
The study, the results of which were published in the journal ACS sensors, verified the bubble capture mechanism of the novel sensor. It was also found that the lactate measurement was not affected by sweat flow rate, while the sensor response remained stable for two hours. The sensor was also tested on a volunteer who exercised on a stationary bike for about an hour.
WHY IT MATTERS
Human sweat can provide insight into a person’s fluid balance, electrolyte balance and overall physiological state, TUS researchers noted. Their latest invention can potentially facilitate health monitoring and exercise management for athletes.
“Since the microfluidic system of the proposed lactate sensor is made of a soft, flexible, and non-irritating material, it could be used for continuous monitoring of lactate levels in sweat, particularly in sports and medicine,” claimed Dr. Shitanda.
THE BIGGER TREND
In the Connected Fitness Tech sector, popular supplier of sports drinks Gatorade launched a sweat patch and accompanying fitness tracking app two years ago that athletes can use to track their hydration, salt levels, and other metrics.
Massachusetts researchers Tufts University has also developed a sensor patch that can be sewn onto garments to track sweat biomarkers.