When it comes to biometric sensors, human skin isn’t an ally.
It’s an obstacle.
The University of Cincinnati is developing cutting-edge methods to overcome this barrier without compromising the skin and its ability to prevent infection and dehydration. By making better noninvasive tests, researchers can open up enormous opportunities in medicine and the fitness industry.
“You think of the skin as an opportunity because you can measure things through it optically, chemically, electrically and mechanically,” said Jason Heikenfeld, assistant vice president in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. “But it’s actually the opposite. The body has evolved to preserve all of these chemical analytes. So the skin actually isn’t very good at giving them up.”
Heikenfeld, director of UC’s Novel Devices Lab, co-authored a critical review of sensor research this month with his students and colleagues for the nanotechnology journal Lab on a Chip (“Wearable sensors: modalities, challenges, and prospects”), outlining both scientific accomplishments to date and challenges ahead.