Wearable chip can tell you when stress levels are dangerously high through your sweat
LAUSANNE, Switzerland — From fitness monitors to sleep trackers, wearable technology has taken self-improvement to new heights. Now, a new device developed by Swiss researchers might warn you if your stress levels are growing dangerously high.
Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) are designing a wearable sensor that measures cortisol in human sweat. Cortisol is the “stress hormone.” Normally, cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day, following a circadian rhythm. When dealing with certain diseases however, the circadian rhythm is disrupted.
“In people who suffer from stress-related diseases, this circadian rhythm is completely thrown off,” says Adrian Ionescu, head of EPFL’s Nanoelectronic Devices Laboratory (Nanolab) in a university release. “And if the body makes too much or not enough cortisol, that can seriously damage an individual’s health, potentially leading to obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression or burnout.”
Ionescu and his colleagues think their wearable could help doctors detect and treat this conditions and other cortisol-related diseases such as Cushing’s disease (too much cortisol) or Addison’s disease (not enough cortisol).
Quantifying stress with a patch
For their sensor, Nanolab scientists decided to measure cortisol in sweat, although it can also be measured in saliva and urine. This enabled them to create a non-invasive wearable, making it easy and painless for people to use.