That Fitbit on your wrist is about to look "awfully basic," reports the Los Angeles Times, with the introduction of a sweat monitor that the lead author of a new study likens to having "a pathology lab right on the body." Electrical engineers at UC Berkeley are reporting in the journal Nature on a wristband that can monitor the user's sweat to look for early signs of, say, dehydration or stress and link up to the user's smartphone for real-time analysis. A smartphone app would then act as pathologist, interpreting the data as it comes in. At this stage of development, the monitor tracks four biomarkers in sweat (including electrolytes like sodium and metabolites like glucose), and it incorporates a temperature sensor.
These biomarkers can all hint at the early onset of issues, such as dehydration, muscle cramping, and stress in certain parts of the body, while future add-ons could expand the monitoring to many other parts of one's physical well-being in real time. "The long term goal is to see if we can work with minimum amount of body liquid, so you won't need to exercise for the monitor to work," says lead author Ali Javey. While commercialization is still a bit down the road, one expert not involved with the research applauds the gains, writing in Nature's News & Views: "Making a wearable band that electrochemically senses sweat analytes is extremely difficult." (Have you seen this wearable tech wig?)