Many are aware of the importance of proper water intake. Hydration is one of the things that fluctuates throughout the day and can be deeply impacted by body weight, activity, food consumption and more. While dehydration can lead to things such as chapped lips, dry skin and constipation, there are other more serious issues that can result in a lack of proper hydration. Finding a way to constantly keep track of your own personal levels of hydration can be difficult. Making sure you are consuming an adequate amount of water is a good step, however tracking that isn't always ideal.
Researchers at North Carolina State University introduced a device that is low cost, wearable and wireless that can detect the amount of hydration within the body based on the skin. These can be worn either as a chest or wrist patch and serve a huge purpose to prevent things like severe dehydration, heat stroke and other complications when the body doesn't properly consume or retain enough water. The device is lightweight, easy to wear and incredibly stretchable. It's perfect for people who are constantly on the go and who are always active. The patch's ability to detect dehydration before it becomes an issue is one of its preeminent functions.
Gauging Proper Hydration
The reason this patch was created, according to the professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State, is because it's difficult to measure a person's hydrations quantitatively, which is relevant for everyone from military personnel to athletes to firefighters, who are at risk of health problems related to heat stress when training or in the field. Proper hydration is integral to so many and we didn't have a way to properly gauge that until the advent of this patch.
The patch is able to use technological precursors that allow the tracking of hydration in real time. The sensors are continually tracking and monitoring the hydration levels of the skin and when they get too low an alert sounds. This type of technology can be the difference between really protecting an individuals health when they are working in hot conditions. It can even be used to help improve the athletic performance of an athlete as they emit and lose water more readily than someone with a more sedentary lifestyle.
The patch contains two electrodes that are comprised of elastic polymer composite with small conductive silver nanowires. Due to the way that the skin's electric properties change, based on how hydrated the skin is, the skin is a perfect way to test levels of hydration.
After the patch was created, it was tested in a lab using specialty artificial skin with a wide range of hydration levels. The tests were found to be incredibly accurate and it was also discovered that the patches themselves were not negatively impacted by ambient humidity. The manner in which the sensors adhere to the skin is both comfortable and effective as it won't randomly fall off.
There was also an additional type of product that was developed that resembles a wristwatch for those who don't prefer the functionality of a patch. This is great for athletes and those who want to track their hydration levels at certain times of the day, typically when they are the most physically active. The overall cost to make the sensor? Only one dollar. It's incredibly affordable to produce.