First-of-Its-Kind Device Tracks Biosignals in Real Time

First-of-Its-Kind Device Tracks Biosignals in Real Time

Smart devices just keep getting smarter — with the goal of rendering a common criticism of wearable devices (that they’re not always accurate, particularly for measures such as heart rate) obsolete.

Take new technology from engineers at the University of California, San Diego, who just released news of a device prototype that could change the game for performance athletes.

wearable tech device tracks biosignals ekg lactate

Photo Credit: Jacobs School of Engineering UC San Diego

The Chem-Phys patch records electrocardiogram (EKG) heart signals as well as levels of lactate, which is a marker of physical effort, in real time, according to a press release. It then automatically communicates wirelessly to a smartphone, smart watch or laptop via Bluetooth.

“One of the overarching goals of our research is to build a wearable tricorder-like device that can measure simultaneously a whole suite of chemical, physical and electrophysiological signals continuously throughout the day,” co-leader of the project and electrical engineering professor Patrick Mercier, Ph.D., of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, said in a statement. “This research represents an important first step to show this may be possible.”

The work was published in Nature Communications on May 23.

Device Tracking Effort

What really sets the device apart is the ability to track lactate, or the foundational compound of lactic acid, which builds up in muscles during exertion. This feature could be particularly helpful for athletes looking to gauge their effort level and performance.

wearable tech device in use tracks biosignals ekg lactate

Photo Credit: Jacobs School of Engineering UC San Diego

Already, the research team reports that it has received requests from Olympic athletes about the technology.

“The ability to sense both EKG and lactate in a small wearable sensor could provide benefits in a variety of areas,” says Kevin Patrick, M.D., a physician and director of the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems at UC San Diego, who was not involved with the research said in the university press release.

“There would certainly be interest in the sports medicine community about how this type of sensing could help optimize training regimens for elite athletes,” he added. “The ability to concurrently assess EKG and lactate could also open up some interesting possibilities in preventing and/or managing individuals with cardiovascular disease.”

How the Device Works

With the tech, a thin polyester sheet is applied directly to the skin, complete with an electrode to sense biological signals in the body. The sensors connect to a circuit board equipped with a microcontroller and Bluetooth chip to wirelessly transmit the data.

Next steps, the team says, include improve the connectivity between the chip and the circuit board, as well as adding sensors for other chemical markers key to athletic performance, such as magnesium and potassium.

TELL US: Would you try this type of wearable tech? Why or why not?

READ  Which Physical Activity Tracker Is Best for Counting Calories?
Facebook Comments
Stridekick
"Follow Us"

Stridekick

Stridekick is an online and mobile platform that allows individuals to create and join fun fitness challenges regardless of which wearable device they own or level of fitness. Join a community of other health minded individuals in stepping towards your health goals today!
Stridekick
"Follow Us"