As technology continues to get smaller and smarter, the world of wearable technologies grows larger. Many people already own devices that can monitor their movement, heartbeat and sleep – but what about a watch that can tell when you’re sick or an exoskeleton that can predict and prevent falls? Such inventions may be in our future if current Stanford University research is any indication.

In order to get the most out of future wearables, researchers are studying all stages of their design, production and use. This includes not only making new kinds of wearable devices but also innovating how they are fabricated and making sure existing wearables live up to their exciting promises.

Lab mates in the Bao Research Group at Stanford demonstrate the flexibility and stretchability of their artificial skin made using their newly created printing method. (Image credit: Yuqing Zheng)

Constructing wearables

Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance

A scientific research and technology partnership, led by Stanford and engaging five other public and private universities and institutes, will explore peak human performance with the goal of transforming human health on a global scale. The Alliance will be directed by Stanford bioengineer Scott Delp.

New chemistry enables using existing technology to print stretchable, bendable circuits on artificial skin

Stanford researchers show how to print dense transistor arrays on skin-like materials to create stretchable circuits that flex with the body to perform applications yet to be imagined.

A new stretchable battery can power wearable electronics

The experimental device promises to provide a safe and comfortable power source for technologies that must bend and flex with our bodies.

An artificial nerve system gives prosthetic devices and robots a sense of touch

Stanford and Seoul National University researchers have developed an artificial nervous system that could give prosthetic limbs or robots reflexes and the ability to sense touch.

Flextronics take another step closer to reality

The long-sought future of flexible electronics that are wearable has proven elusive, but Stanford researchers say they have made a breakthrough.

New center sets out to stop disease before it starts

At the Precision Health and Integrated Diagnostics Center, scientists turn the norms of disease research on their head, searching not for treatments but for ways to prevent disease entirely.

A new system for measuring calories burned during activity features two sensors on the thigh and shank that are powered by a battery and controlled by a microcontroller, which could be replaced by a smartphone. (Image credit: Andrew Brodhead)

Exploring the potential of current wearables

An accurate wearable calorie burn counter

A system made with two inexpensive sensors proves to be more accurate than smartwatches for measuring calories burned during activity – and the instructions for making the system yourself are available for free online.

Through Apple Heart study, Stanford medicine researchers show wearable technology can help detect atrial fibrillation

Study shows that Apple Watch app can identify heart rhythm irregularities, which can help catch atrial fibrillation.

Smartwatch data can predict blood test results, study reports

Stanford researchers found that data from smartwatches can flag early signs of some health conditions and predict the results of simple blood tests.

Smartwatch can detect early signs of illness

Stanford Medicine scientists have devised a smartwatch-based “alarm system” that goes off when it detects signs of infection.

Smartphone app encourages physical activity, study finds

Using a smartphone app, Stanford scientists and their colleagues conducted the first entirely digital randomized clinical trial to boost exercise among participants.

Study shows how big data can be used for personal health

Years-long tracking of individuals’ biology helped define what it meant for them to be healthy and showed how changes from the norm could signal disease, a Stanford-led study reports.

Google Glass helps kids with autism read facial expressions

Wearing a device that identifies other people’s facial expressions can help children with autism develop better social skills, a Stanford pilot study has demonstrated.

Diabetic-level glucose spikes seen in healthy people

A study out of Stanford in which blood sugar levels were continuously monitored reveals that even people who think they’re “healthy” should pay attention to what they eat.

View from autofocals.

Stanford engineers are testing a pair of smart glasses that can automatically focus on whatever you're looking at. (Image credit: Robert Konrad)

A glimpse into our wearable future

Tracking COVID-19 in Pac-12 athletes using smartwatches

Stanford Medicine researchers and collaborators aiming to predict and detect COVID-19 through smartwatch data expand user base into Pac-12 athletes.

Ankle exoskeleton enables faster walking

In lab tests, researchers found that an optimized ankle exoskeleton system increased participants’ walking speed by about 40 percent compared with their regular speed. The researchers hope someday to help restore walking speed in older adults.

Building a wearable that can catch you when you stumble

An AI-based robotics system can predict and prevent falls in high-risk populations.

A fitness app with a story to tell: Can narrative keep us moving?

Stanford researchers are developing a fitness app called WhoIsZuki that uses storytelling to keep users active.

Stanford Medicine scientists hope to use data from wearable devices to predict illness, including COVID-19

Researchers from Stanford Medicine and their collaborators aim to predict the onset of viral infection through data provided by wearable technology. What they need now are participants.

Ankle exoskeleton makes running easier

Researchers find that a motorized device that attaches around the ankle and foot can drastically reduce the energy cost of running.

Tracking the movements, minds of surgeons to improve performance

Stanford scientist Carla Pugh has spent years developing wearable technologies for surgeons. Her goal: Use data to improve surgical decision-making.

Beyond fitness trackers: Motivating the unmotivated to exercise more

Beyond fitness trackers: Motivating the unmotivated to exercise more

Wireless sensors stick to skin and track health

Stanford engineers have developed experimental stickers that pick up physiological signals emanating from the skin, then wirelessly beam these health readings to a receiver clipped onto clothing. It’s all part of a system called BodyNet.

Researchers building glove to treat symptoms of stroke

Strokes often have a devastating impact on our hands. Now, Stanford researchers are collaborating on a vibrating glove that could improve hand function after a stroke.

Stanford develops ‘autofocals’ – glasses that track your eyes to focus on what you see

By using eye-tracking technology to automatically control a pair of autofocus lenses, engineers have created a prototype for “autofocals” designed to restore proper vision in people who would ordinarily need progressive lenses.

A wearable device measures cortisol in sweat

By drawing in a bit of sweat, a patch developed in the lab of Alberto Salleo can reveal how much cortisol a person is producing. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone but is involved in many important physiological functions.

We are bombarded by thousands of diverse species and chemicals

Stanford scientists have measured the human “exposome,” or the particulates, chemicals and microbes that individually swaddle us all, in unprecedented detail.

Concussion researchers study head motion in high school football hits

Three Bay Area high school football teams have been outfitted with mouthguards that measure head motion. Stanford scientists hope to use the data to better understand what causes concussions.