Sweat-analyzing smartwatch could warn wearers of elevated stress

Sweat-analyzing smartwatch could warn wearers of elevated stress.

Sweat-analyzing Smartwatch measures sweat and elevated stress of wearers as they often go together.

It’s important for people with conditions such as depression and anxiety to know when they’re becoming stressed, so they can initiate coping strategies. An experimental new smartwatch could someday warn them, by detecting a stress hormone in their sweat.

When someone becomes stressed, their body produces a hormone known as cortisol – the greater the level of stress, the higher the concentration of cortisol in their bloodstream. And while those concentrations can be measured by analyzing blood samples, doing so obviously isn’t an effective way of continuously monitoring stress in real time.

Fortunately, cortisol concentrations in the sweat correspond to those in the bloodstream. That’s where the prototype smartwatch comes in – it’s currently being developed at UCLA, by teams led by Prof. Anne Andrews and Assoc. Prof. Sam Emaminejad.

On the underside of the device is a thin adhesive film, which utilizes microfluidic channels to draw in tiny amounts of sweat from the wearer’s skin. That sweat is carried through to a sensor that contains engineered strands of DNA, called aptamers.

Sweat-analyzing smartwatch could warn wearers of elevated stress
Sweat-analyzing smartwatch could warn wearers of elevated stress. The prototype smartwatch measures cortisol concentrations in the wearer’s sweat, which mirror those in their bloodstream. Yichao Zhao and Zhaoqing Wang/UCLA

Each cortisol molecule in the sweat attaches itself to an aptamer, “like a key fits a lock.” The aptamer changes shape as a result, altering the electrical fields on the surface of an adjacent transistor. A microprocessor analyzes the fluctuations of those fields, using them to determine the wearer’s current cortisol levels. Those levels are displayed on an LCD screen on the top surface of the watch.

Because every person produces different amounts of cortisol, the watch would initially have to be calibrated to each user, establishing a baseline for their default cortisol levels. Once that baseline was set, the device could warn them when they were becoming dangerously stressed. It could additionally track their cortisol levels over time, to see when and how often they were experiencing elevated stress.

“I anticipate that the ability to monitor variations in cortisol closely across time will be very instructive for people with psychiatric disorders,” said Andrews. “They may be able to see something coming or monitor changes in their own personal patterns.”

A paper on the study – which is not related to a somewhat similar project at Switzerland’s EPFL research institute – was recently published in the journal Science Advances.

SwampButt Underwear cannot measure anything on a smart watch but it can help reduce the amount of visible sweat on pants, seats, sofas, couches, barstools, or anywhere the sweaty among us are seated. Visible sweat is not socially acceptable in western culture. People who sweat more than others will face ostracism from their peers, neighbors and families. SwampButt Underwear is not a cure but it will cause sweat to evaporate faster than with traditional cotton underwear.

With a blend of spandex and lycra, SwampButt Underwear™ is the perfect underwear for runners, cyclists, exercise enthusiasts and anyone who has a backside. SwampButt Underwear performance undergarments are made from a blend of lycra and polyester fibers. The traditional brief style is a blend of cotton and lycra. Both styles fit snuggly, there will never be any droop associated with our garments.

How the undergarment works and what it is made of are related. First, there is the phenomena of ‘wicking’ which is the way moisture travels across a larger area of fabric. The more and further moisture (in this case sweat) can disperse across a surface, the faster it can evaporate. Imagine a squeegee pulling water across a windshield. When spread to a larger surface are, the water on the windshield evaporates faster. Or push rain water across a drive way or parking lot into a larger surface area and it also evaporates faster.
The same thing happens with our garment. Sweat wicks across a larger area and evaporates faster because of this. The rate of wicking is related to the materials and the way sweat spreads across them. Polyester fibers are hydrophobic because they are really plastic and will not absorb moisture. Our performance undergarments are made from lycra and polyester fibers.

Source: UCLA

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