One of the recurring themes here at Health Tech Insider is the fact that when it comes to winning strategies for wearable devices, more functions beats fewer functions. We are starting to leave the “one-trick-pony” stage of the industry, and starting to see integration of features. This will be most successful, however, when the integrated functions complement each other, resulting in combined information that is more useful than any single source on its own.
A good example of this the Chem-Phys patch that has been developed by researchers at the University of California San Diego. As its name implies, This patch worn on the chest has sensors that measure both chemical and physical data. It gathers single-lead ECG data and measures lactate levels. It then sends its data wirelessly to a smartphone or smartphone. One challenge of the project was to create a system where the sensors do not interfere with each other By combining the two sets of information, athletes can more accurately measure the effect of their workouts. The system could also be helpful to physicians to monitor patients with heart disease.
The sensor patches are screen-printed on a plastic substrate, but the device currently relies on a typical printed circuit board for the controller circuitry and other supporting electronics. In time, this portion could be miniaturized, and perhaps even printed onto a flexible substrate as well. The researchers are now looking at adding more sensors to the system, such as a way to measure magnesium, potassium, and other chemical biomarkers. By collecting more types of data at the same time, researchers hope to find new correlations that can help diagnose and treat diseases and chronic conditions.