A research team from Tokyo University of Science has created a new sweat sensor for continuous lactate monitoring, which is useful for predicting muscle fatigue.
WHAT IT IS FOR
In one study, researchers address a common issue in existing microfluidic technologies: when used to monitor sweat biomarkers, the microfluidic channels tend to clog with air bubbles, thus interrupting the measurement.
The design proposed by the TUS researchers uses a larger sweat reservoir. TUS Associate Professor Dr Isao Shitanda explained: “By increasing the length of the reservoir in the microfluidic channel, a space of approximately four microliters was created to capture any air bubbles that penetrate the device, thereby preventing them from contacting the electrodes of the sensor.”
The study, the findings of which were published in the journal ACS Sensors verified the bubble capture mechanism of the new sensor. He also found that lactate measurement was not affected by sweat flow rate while the sensor’s response remained stable over 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 hydration level, electrolyte balance and overall physiological state, TUS researchers noted. Their latest invention could potentially facilitate the health monitoring and training management of athletes.
“Since the microfluidic system of the proposed lactate sensor is made of a soft, flexible and non-irritating material, it can be used to continuously monitor lactate levels in sweat, especially in sports and medicine,” claimed Dr Shitanda.
THE BIGGEST TREND
In connected fitness technology, popular sports drink retailer Gatorade two years ago launched a sweat-tracking patch and accompanying fitness-monitoring app for athletes to track their hydration, salt concentration and other metrics.
Massachusetts-based researcher Tufts University has also designed a sensor patch that can be sewn into clothing to track sweat biomarkers.