As you may well know, plants (and humans) need electrolytes. Until now, however, we’ve had to trust our guts and go out and buy a bottle of Brawndo if we were feeling a little down. Fear not, however, because a new sensor will use micro needles to steal a bit of your precious bodily fluids in order to tell when you need to fuel up.
The system, created by Sandia National Laboratories researcher Ronen Polsky and his team, is small enough to fit in a watch and sits on the surface of the skin. It samples interstitial fluid – the fluid between cells – and not your blood. It is painless because the needles don’t activate any nerves in the body. It’s designed for both doctors who need to maintain certain levels in a patient as well as athletes who might need to know when they should replenish electrolytes.
With a bit of tweaking, the system could also test for sodium and calcium levels in the body as well. Future systems could also allow users to get doses of the right minerals and electrolytes as needed, based on a feedback loop led by the sensor. Because it’s non-invasive, painless, and doesn’t sample actual blood it’s far more efficient than current methods for biosensing.
“We want to make the device wearable, noninvasive, and with real-time readout to constantly measure things a doctor might normally order for laboratory tests,” said Polsky.