Bioscientists at the University of California at San Diego have fashioned a stretchy polymer patch smaller than a business card that will monitor your blood pressure; read your sweat to measure levels of alcohol, caffeine, and lactose in your body; and track glucose levels in the fluid between your cells.
At the center of the patch, a blood pressure sensor sends ultrasound waves into the body that bounce off arteries. A computer converts the pattern of returning echoes into a blood pressure reading.
Another sensor sends compounds into the skin that cause the skin the sweat, then reads the sweat’s contents; the glucose monitor zaps the wearer with a tiny electrical current that releases fluid from between cells, then takes a glucose measurement.
The developers see their creation as not only useful in hospital ICU wards where patients’ vital signs have to be continually monitored, but also for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions that need steady attention.
Currently, the device is wired to a tabletop reader but the designers are at work on a wireless version that, ultimately, will be able to send readings to a smartphone.
TRENDPOST: The new wearable medical lab will evolve, eventually becoming customizable to the needs of each wearer, depending on which vital signs or biochemicals need to be monitored.
More broadly, the confluence of miniaturization and computer power continues to drive the transfer of routine medical exams and monitoring from doctors to individuals. That eliminates time spent in waiting rooms, uncomfortable procedures, and anxiety while waiting for results.
The trend of transferring monitoring and data collection from doctor to patient also gives individuals more responsibility for their well-being. 
Photo credit: University of California San Diego.

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