Clothes could measure glucose: scientists 

Pricking a finger is part of everyday life for many people with diabetes – but just imagine if glucose levels could be measured and sent to a specialist for analysis through a patient’s clothing?

The University of Wollongong’s Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI) – through its work with smart textiles – is collaborating with Ireland’s National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR) to find such innovative solutions for the management of diabetes and other health conditions.

NCSR director Professor Dermot Diamond was one of 150 international scientists who converged on the Innovation Campus this week to share their ground-breaking research being carried out in collaboration with UOW.

Researchers at the eighth annual Electromaterials Science Symposium, which will run until tomorrow, are speaking on a range of research areas, including solar energy generation, artificial muscles and printing 3D structures.

IPRI director Professor Gordon Wallace said international researchers used the university’s expertise and facilities to help progress their ideas from ‘‘thought to thing’’.

‘‘This annual symposium brings world leaders in their area of research to Wollongong, who bring their complementary skills to progress the development of new technologies for energy and medical bionics,’’ he said.

Prof Diamond said the NCSR was focused on the science and applications of chemical sensors and bio-sensors.

‘‘We have been collaborating with [UOW] for 20 years – in which time sensing has been stimulated by developments in digital communications,’’ he said. 

‘‘For instance if you look at diabetes, where a finger-prick device is currently used by people to measure their own glucose levels.

‘‘The next step is for every one of those measurements to be internet enabled, so as soon as a measurement is taken an instrument will record the glucose level, the time, the location and so on and make that information accessible to specialists.

‘‘What we’re really interested in is how to measure those glucose levels without people having to form the action – and that’s where smart textiles come in.

‘‘Clothing becomes the sensor that interacts with the skin and, through sweat, can measure things like glucose levels and update that information on a regular basis.’’

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