Novel 'wristwatch' to boost athletic performance, prevent injury

Washington, Feb 4 (PTI) Researchers have developed a novel device the size of a wristwatch which can monitor an individual's body chemistry to help improve athletic performance, and identify potential health problems.

According to the study, published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the device can be used to detect dehydration, and track athletic recovery with potential applications ranging from military training to competitive sports.

The researchers, including those from North Carolina State University in the US, said the device monitors the blood levels of different metabolites, which are chemical markers that can be monitored to assess an individual's metabolism.

If a person's metabolite levels are outside of normal parameters, they said, the device could let trainers or health professionals know that something's wrong.

In the case of athletes, the scientists said, detecting changes in metabolite levels using the device could be used to help tailor training efforts to improve physical performance.

'This technology allows us to test for a wide range of metabolites in almost real time,' said Michael Daniele, co-author of the study, and an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University.

'For this proof-of-concept study, we tested sweat from human participants and monitored for glucose, lactate, pH and temperature,' Daniele said.

According to the study, the metabolite levels are detected by a replaceable strip on the back of the device which is embedded with chemical sensors.

The strip rests against a user's skin, where it comes into contact with their sweat, the study noted.

Data from the strip's sensors are interpreted by hardware inside the device, which then records the results, and relays them to the user's smartphone or smartwatch.

'The device is the size of an average watch, but contains analytical equipment equivalent to four of the bulky electrochemistry devices currently used to measure metabolite levels in the lab,' Daniele said.

'We've made something that is truly portable, so that it can be used in the field,' Daniele added.

The researchers said the sensors on the device can be customised to monitor other body chemicals that can be markers for health and athletic performance, such as electrolytes.

'We're optimistic that this hardware could enable new technologies to reduce casualties during military or athletic training, by spotting health problems before they become critical,' Daniele said. PTI VIS VIS VIS