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Valley facility developing technology to detect drugs, alcohol in sweat

(KTAR News/Peter Samore)

PHOENIX — A jetpack and exoskeleton to measure how you’re lifting? It’s in development at a new central Phoenix facility.

The favorite piece for WearTech Center’s research director is a wearable patch to sense drugs or alcohol in sweat.

Gregory Raupp says constant monitoring could deter users and make them clean. Also in development: a watch that measures blood-sugar levels without piercing the skin.

“When you measure stuff, that’s when you start paying attention to it,” Raupp said. “If you don’t measure it, if you ignore it, you kind of turn a blind eye. It’s a different story.”

Raupp is connecting tech groups, Barrow Neurological Institute and Arizona’s public universities to produce wearable technologies to save lives.

“Pretty soon, you’ve got this ecosystem of people from venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, technology developers, business folks, product developers, managers — everybody comes together and is pulling in the same direction,” he said.

The president and CEO of Barrow walked across the street to WearTech at the Park Central Mall for Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Dr. Michael Lawton looks forward to the products that WearTech’s partners can produce.

“We can become a partner in testing them, seeing if it works, giving them the feedback that they need,” he said.

Now, Lawton implants devices into brains to stimulate activity. But he would welcome products that are not surgically invasive.

“I really think that we can become a neuroscience hub, or a neuroscience leader in the country,” he said. “It’s all happening in this little corridor.”

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