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Sweat, the next frontier in wearable technology

The wearables space is littered with devices that track everything from your steps and calories to the number of reps and sets you are lifting in your local gym. These gadgets are getting better with each passing day, but it is fair to say that its been a while since we’ve seen a fitness device that has truly opened up a new frontier in monitoring your health.

This is about to change soon.

There has been one extremely valuable source of health information that has been ignored so far – your sweat. Every drop of this liquid tells a story about what is happening inside the body. It provides information on dehydration, stress, muscle cramping, high cholesterol, depression and even blood glucose.

Sweat is an ideal source for the capture of data that the medical community usually gathers from our blood, urine, and saliva. It is also the least invasive—no needle or cup needed.

Eccrine Systems, a Cincinnati-based outfit, has been working for three years now on a line of wristbands, headbands and skin patches that will diagnose your health in real-time based on secreted sweat. The company was originally launched by the Air Force and the University of Cincinnati in an effort measure the health status of soldiers through sweat detection.

sweat the next frontier in wearable technology - Sweat, the next frontier in wearable technology

“The whole goal is non-invasive measure of bio-molecules that can inform us about physical functions and dysfunctions and medical conditions,” said Robert Beech, chairman and co-founder of Eccrine Systems in an interview with the Washington Post.

“The goal is not to have to stick needles and catheters into people. In the context of daily life, work, sleep, play, the goal is to have a window into the current physiological status of the wearer.”

”Eccrine’s cutting edge technology system will measure and transmit data about human sweat wirelessly via a transceiver to a smartphone or tablet in real time.”

Eccrine’s technology will grab sweat as soon as it is secreted and provide you with a pile of data based on its biochemical status. The company is about 18 months away from producing its first wearable, although it is not clear yet whether it will take the form of a wristband, headband or skin patch. Eccrine wants to ensure they have a high quality product before bringing it to the market.

“If you are going to tell people that they are okay, you better be right about that,” Beech added.”

“And if you are going to tell them to stop and go do something, you better be right about that, too.”

The science of sweat is still in the early stages although clinical uses trace back to the 1950’s. It is only now, however, that we are witnessing rapid acceleration of the technology for applications ranging from athletics to pediatrics to pharmaceutical monitoring.

Health and wellness monitoring will only become more common, as costs drop, capabilities rise and competition grows for next generation biosensing wearables. Eccrine has broad ambitions in this field, and we certainly hope they succeed in their efforts.

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