Remember those hormones we were taught about in middle school? The ones responsible for a fair percentage of our functioning? Well, it turns out that the incredibly smart people at Stanford have devised a way to track the levels of one in particular: cortisol, which influences emotional stress, blood pressure, metabolic rate, immune response and memory formation.
The aspect that’s different about this method of tracking is that firstly, one can do it oneself and secondly, it gives an immediate response as opposed to traditional tests that do give a result, but give one that is dated due to the fact that cortisol levels are constantly fluctuating.
It takes the form of a simple wearable patch that a user places on any area glistening with sweat—that’s one condition, there should be an adequate amount of sweat to gauge a result from—and from there the patch does all the work by filtering the charged ions of the perspiration through a cortisol-sensitive membrane. Unless blocked by the hormone, the charged ions will pass through, so the process is to track the amount of ions that get backed up. Once connected to a device, one can get lightning-fast results, thereby allowing a prompt recourse.
While this helps in tracking stress as objectively and non-invasively as possible, the benefits go way beyond that. Anyone with a cortisol-imbalance can monitor their levels consistently, and it’ll even work with people who cannot give verbal cues regarding stress etc. The writers of the paper even suggest its usage in upping sports performance.
Currently a prototype, the researchers are looking at ways to adapt this design so as to make it track through other indicators such as saliva.