Early wristband fitness trackers were easy to differentiate from single-purpose health tech wearables that monitored just heart rate or blood pressure. Wearables packing multiple biosensors upped the game with advanced fitness wearables such as the Fitbit Charge HR which can monitor your heart rate continuously, count your steps, track your sleep stages, and more.

Engineers at Rutgers University are taking health wearables to the next stage with particle-level biosensors embedded in a wristband. In a study published in Microsystems & Nanoengineering, senior author Mehdi Javanmard, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the School of Engineering, detailed the new technology. The wristband’s flexible circuit board holds a biosensor, a micro-controller, a Bluetooth module, and a narrow pipe or channel with embedded electrodes. A tiny pinprick on the wristband’s skin side obtains blood samples that move through the channel where electrodes count individual cells. The data is digitized and transmitted from the wristband to an associated smartphone app that processes and displays the data.

According to the Rutgers team, particle-level sensing will enable health professionals to obtain blood test results in the field rapidly, saving valuable time in assessing and diagnosing injuries and illness. The technology also has the potential for use in environmental monitoring applications.