A painless wearable gadget can simultaneously measure blood sugar, alcohol and muscle fatigue

A new wearable gadget that attaches to the arm can measure blood sugar and muscle fatigue in the gym and alcohol levels in the pub.

Created in California, the prototype can continuously monitor three health statistics – glucose, alcohol and lactate levels – either separately or simultaneously in real time.

Approximately the size of three poker chips stacked together, it is applied to the skin painlessly through the velcro of a microscope needle.

These pins take fluid readings under the skin and then wirelessly send the data to a custom smartphone app.

Researchers hope to commercialize the device, which could provide a unique solution for diabetic patients in everyday life.

The device can be worn on the upper arm while the wearer is busy with his day - whether in the gym or in a pub

The device can be worn on the upper arm while the wearer is busy with his day – whether in the gym or in a pub

HOW DOES IT WORK?

A patch of a device of 25 microscopic needles or microneedles, each about one-fifth the width of a human hair.

Sticking them in the hand does not cause pain, researchers say, because microneedles barely penetrate the surface of the skin.

Various enzymes at the tips of microneedles react with lactate, glucose and alcohol present in the interstitial fluid – fluid that surrounds the cells under the skin.

These reactions are generated by small electric currents, which are analyzed by electronic sensors and transmitted wirelessly to smartphone applications.

Engineers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) describe their device in a paper published today in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

‘This is like a complete laboratory on the skin,’ said study author Joseph Wang, a professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego.

‘It is possible to continuously measure multiple biomarkers at the same time, allowing users to monitor their health and well-being as they perform their daily activities.’

Most commercial health monitors, such as continuous glucose meters for diabetics, measure only one signal.

The problem with this is that it omits information that could help people with diabetes manage their disease more effectively.

For example, monitoring alcohol levels is also helpful because drinking alcohol can lower glucose levels.

Knowing both levels can help people with diabetes prevent their blood sugar from dropping too low after drinking.

Combining information about lactate – a biomarker for muscle fatigue, such as during exercise – is also helpful because physical activity affects the body’s ability to regulate glucose.

The device works with a custom smartphone app, developed by a research team, to capture data and visualize

The device works with a custom smartphone app, developed by a research team, to capture data and visualize

Approximately the size of three poker chips stacked together, the new device is painlessly applied to the skin via velcro-like microscopic needles.  Here, the disposable microneedle patch is separated from the reusable electronic box

Approximately the size of three poker chips stacked together, the new device is painlessly applied to the skin via velcro-like microscopic needles. Here, the disposable microneedle patch is separated from the reusable electronic box

‘With our wearable device, people can see the interaction between their jumps or falls in glucose with eating, exercising and drinking alcohol,’ said co-author Farshad Tehrani of UCSD.

‘It could also contribute to their quality of life.’

A patch of a device of 25 microscopic needles or microneedles, each about one-fifth the width of a human hair.

Sticking them in the hand does not cause pain, researchers say, because microneedles barely penetrate the surface of the skin.

Various enzymes at the tips of microneedles react with lactate, glucose and alcohol present in the interstitial fluid – fluid that surrounds the cells under the skin.

These reactions are generated by small electric currents, which are analyzed by electronic sensors and transmitted wirelessly to smartphone applications.

In the experiments, the wearable device was tested on five volunteers, who wore the device on their upper arms while exercising, eating a meal and drinking a glass of wine.

The microneedles of the device barely penetrate the dermis - the inner layer of the two main layers of the skin

The microneedles of the device barely penetrate the dermis – the inner layer of the two main layers of the skin

The device can be charged on a standard wireless charging pad, such as those used for Apple iPhones

The device can be charged on a standard wireless charging pad, such as those used for Apple iPhones

It was used to continuously monitor the glucose levels of volunteers at the same time as alcohol or lactate levels.

The measurements of glucose, alcohol and lactate performed by the device closely coincided with the measurements of commercial blood glucose meters and alcohol test, as well as the measurements of blood lactate carried out in the laboratory.

According to the team, each microneedle patch is disposable, so customers could potentially buy in bulk and stock up when needed when the device is commercialized.

The wearable device connects to a reusable electronic housing that contains the battery, electronic sensors, wireless transmitter, and other electronic components.

This allows you to charge the device on any wireless charging pad used for phones and smart watches.

Researchers co-founded a startup company called AquilX to further develop commercialization technology.

The next steps include testing and improving how long the microneedle patch can last before it is replaced.

The company is also excited about the possibility of adding more sensors to the device to monitor patient drug levels and other health signals.

SCIENTISTS CREATE SMART BRACELET TO MONITOR YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

A bracelet that can monitor blood pressure whether you are standing, sitting, lying down or even sleeping fast could help fight hypertension.

The Aktiia home blood pressure measuring kit, created by the company of the same name, comes with a cuff, bracelet and partner application, which can constantly monitor blood pressure without a bulky device.

The Swiss-based company began working on blood pressure monitoring using optical sensors 15 years ago, and was ready to launch it in the spring of 2021.

It uses signal processing to take actual measurements against the baseline, instead of using artificial intelligence to ‘predict’ blood pressure levels.

Aktiia says her goal is to ‘improve cardiovascular health by providing patients and doctors with a deeper understanding of their blood pressure patterns’.

Read more: Smart bracelet that monitors your blood pressure

Leave a Comment