Wearable technology is slowly making its way into the world of today thanks to the engineers in the research and development centers all around the world. Engineers at the University of California San Diego are now announcing that they have the world's first, flexible, wearable device that can monitor "both biochemical and electric signals" that the human body emits. They're calling it the Chem-Phys patch and it records EKG (electrocardiogram) heart signals and other biochemicals the body emits when doing physical activity. The device can be worn in the center of the chest and connects wirelessly to a source that extracts the data (smartphone, smartwatch, laptop). 

EIT Stock Image
Credit: UC San Diego

The study of wearable technology is growing at such a rate that UC San Diego has their very own Center for Wearable Sensors where their nanoengineers and electrical engineers do all the work. The engineers say the device they have built will have many uses from monitoring physical activity to measuring data on a patient who has heart disease. 

"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," said Patrick Mercier, an electrical engineering professor at UC San Diego. 

A tricorder being a fictional hand-held device used in Star Trek that would scan a person's body and do a data analysis, eventually spitting out what would be physically wrong with a character in the form of a medical diagnosis. If you didn't know these engineers were nerds before, you surely know now. 

Dr. Kevin Patrick, a physician and director of the Centre for Wireless and Population Health Systems at UC San Diego has been watching the engineers at work and thinks the tricorder-like device could be super beneficial to the sports world. He said: "The ability to sense both EKG and lactate in a small wearable sensor could provide benefits in a variety of areas. 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 next step for the engineers could be to try and take the device to the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize competition that was set up for the sole purpose of actually trying to build a tricorder as seen on Star Trek. The competition will wrap up in 2017 and the prize money will be $10 million. However, it seems as if the competition has already found its finalists. 

Source: Eureka Alert