Tricorder Type Device To Take Health and Fitness Monitoring To A New Frontier

Healthy Living

June 23, 2016

Research on a new device called the “Chem-Phys patch” which is capable of monitoring levels of electrical heart activity and lactate in real time, lactate indicates amounts of physical activity, is promising new technology that could be utilized for athletic and medical purposes.

The Chem-Phys patch is the first device that can easily be worn that can monitor biochemical and electrical body impulses at the same time, in other words it monitors your heart health and fitness levels as you go about your day.

The technology is a breakthrough in monitoring, as today the wearable tracking devices available in the health and fitness market primarily can only monitor one body signal at a time. Co-project leader Patrick Mercier, of the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California-San Diego said, “One of the overarching goals of our research is to build a wearable tricorder-like device that can measure simultaneously a whole suite of chemical, physical and electrophysiological signals continuously throughout the day. This research represents an important first step to show this may be possible.”

The research criteria for the study included three test subjects (males) who engaged in vigorous cycling for 15-30 minutes while wearing the Chem-Phys patch. The men all had the patch placed proximally on the base of the sternum by the research team, and two of the test subjects also had commercial heart rate monitors placed on their wrist.

What the researches concluded was that the information findings from the Chem-Phys patch closely mimicked the information collected from the commercial heart rate monitor that was placed on the test subject’s wrists.

Additionally, the research team compared the data collected by the lactate sensor to that of information collected that monitored the lactate data from previous research studies during physical exercise. The team concluded that the data collected from both the comparative studies closely matched one another, thus further indicating that the possibility of the tricorder-like device as a valuable multi-monitoring system that will have multiple uses is very possible.

“There would certainly be interest in the sports medicine community about how this type of sensing could help optimize training regimens for elite athletes.

The ability to concurrently assess EKG and lactate could also open up some interesting possibilities in preventing and/or managing individuals with cardiovascular disease.”

Dr. Kevin Patrick, University of California-San Diego

The research team published the study in the journal Nature Communications which explains in detail how the device was made and the numerous possibilities for its use. From the positive results of the study the research team says that they are planning on making numerous improvements to the device that will have sensors that will be able to measure and monitor additional chemical markers such as potassium and magnesium, as well as other vital signs. The medical uses for this device could be quite significant particularly in patients that have a need for constant monitoring due to chronic conditions, especially that currently don’t do well with daily monitoring because of the numerous devices that are needed and how invasive and cumbersome wearing numerous devices can be.

The tricorder truly could bring health and fitness monitoring into a whole new universe!