California University engineers develop a first wearable device that monitors cardiovascular signals
25 February 2021: A group of Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have developed a soft, stretchy skin patch, a first wearable device that monitors cardiovascular signals and multiple biochemical levels in the human body at the same time. This patch can be worn on the neck to continuously track blood pressure and heart rate while measuring the wearer’s levels of glucose as well as lactate, alcohol or caffeine.
In the lab of UC San Diego nanoengineering Professor Sheng Xu, researchers have been developing soft, stretchy electronic skin patches that can monitor blood pressure deep inside the body. By joining forces, the researchers created the first flexible, stretchable wearable device that combines chemical sensing (glucose, lactate, alcohol and caffeine) with blood pressure monitoring.
The chemical sensors are two electrodes that are screen printed on the patch from conductive ink. The electrode that senses lactate, caffeine and alcohol is printed on the right side of the patch; it works by releasing a drug called pilocarpine into the skin to induce sweat and detecting the chemical substances in the sweat. The other electrode, which senses glucose, is printed on the left side; it works by passing a mild electrical current through the skin to release interstitial fluid and measuring the glucose in that fluid.
“The novelty here is that we take completely different sensors and merge them together on a single small platform as small as a stamp,” said Joseph Wang, a professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego and co-corresponding author of the study.
According to Lu Yin, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and co-first author of the study published Feb. 15 in Nature Biomedical Engineering, this type of wearable would be very helpful for people with underlying medical conditions to monitor their own health on a regular basis, “It would also serve as a great tool for remote patient monitoring, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”