Biosensor tattoo helps avoid extreme fatigue in athletes

click to enlargeA new biosensor, worn on the skin like a temporary tattoo, provides an early warning to athletes that energy stores in their muscles are running low. The device works by measuring lactate levels in sweat, which allows athletes to evaluate their workouts and adjust the level of intensity.

Reported in the current issue of Analytical Chemistry (subscription required), tests on 10 human volunteers have shown that the sensor can continuously measure real-time lactate levels in sweat during exercise. This method of monitoring has clear benefits, as lactate is usually measured using blood samples which are not only invasive but also require frequent breaks in a workout session to collect.

Research on the biosensor tattoo began in the Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) – see previous TTA item ‘A tattoo sensor to delight or scare kiddies’ covered by TTA’s Editor In Chief, Donna Cusano. Since then the venture has expanded into a commercial company, Electrozyme, which hopes to begin offering the technology to consumers by 2015.

As UCSD nanoengineer Joseph Wang explained in this LA Times article, scientists could also adapt the sensor technology to measure other physiological indicators, such as glucose levels for diabetes and cortisol levels for stress.  Or as Donna Cusano noted in her previous TTA item, “…there’s great potential for this not only in sports, but also in assisted living and rehabs where one of the most serious conditions is gradual, invisible dehydration of residents.”

This development has got quite a bit of coverage and you can read more at Mashable, The Engineer, MobiHealthNews, New Scientist and the Los Angeles Times.

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