Wearable devices that measure physiological processes, whether heart rate monitors, accelerometers, or a brand of newcomers which measure temperature and metabolites, are the newest addition to the fitness revolution that’s become quite formidable. Engineers at the University of California, Berkley have developed the first fully integrated electronic system that can provide continuous, noninvasive monitoring of multiple bio-chemicals in sweat. This type of development can guard against heat stroke, low blood sugar, dehydration, and fatigue.

The device measures multiple sweat analytes, and sends the information straight to a smartphone. Sweat is full of microbiological information and is an important indicator of health. Heat produced by the body is in direct relationship with the amount of oxygen consumed and the amount of calories burned and sweat is a biological response to increased internal temperature. This increased temperature is the result of internal processes involved in bond breaking. It’s no secret that when bonds break, such as carbon bonds when turning glycogen into glucose, that heat is released. In order to cool the body and maintain homeostatic temperature, the body sweats. The sweat will begin first from the head where the brain is vulnerable to overheating. Analyzing this sweat for electrolytes, fluid levels, and other properties allow the levels of the individual to be understood.

As of right now, the prototype developed by Javey and his research team can measure the metabolites glucose and lactate, the electrolytes sodium and potassium, and skin temperature. The researchers developed an application to sync the data from the sensors to mobile phones. The device is also available in wristbands and head-bands. Using a flexible circuit board composed of 10 integrated circuit chips, the sensors are able to measure all of the information in real time. Researchers believe they can easily shrink the device to one circuit chip and expand the amount of biochemical they can measure.

Although the metabolic rate isn’t being directly measured, it’s likely that as this prototype advances there can be observed spikes in metabolic rate as exercise persists. Measurements of temperature can point to increases in heat. This heat being released is explained by the breakdown of food into energy. Further, the amount of heat could also loosely measure oxygen consumption because oxygen is an important component in the breakdown of food into energy and there is a direct relationship between temperature, oxygen consumption, and metabolic rate. Tools that measure indirect and direct calorimetry a long with oxygen consumption were apart of Chapter 1.


  1. University of California – Berkeley. “Let them see you sweat: What new wearable sensors can reveal from perspiration.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160127141402.htm>.
  2. Wei Gao, Sam Emaminejad, Hnin Yin Yin Nyein, Samyuktha Challa, Kevin Chen, Austin Peck, Hossain M. Fahad, Hiroki Ota, Hiroshi Shiraki, Daisuke Kiriya, Der-Hsien Lien, George A. Brooks, Ronald W. Davis, Ali Javey. Fully integrated wearable sensor arrays for multiplexed in situ perspiration analysis. Nature, 2016; 529 (7587): 509 DOI: 1038/nature16521
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