University releases prototype for monitoring hydration

A new wearable idea was recently introduced to the public by North Carolina State University.  The low-cost gadget is designed to measure skin hydration and inform users when they need to drink more water.

The wearable prototype is lightweight and great for a variety of people, because it is stretchy.  It offers a way for people to keep track of how much water they need and, therefore, stay healthier.

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The technology behind the idea is rather complex.  The wearable consists of two electrodes within the elastic polymer composite.  The gadget also contains silver nanowires.  These electrodes are designed to monitor the electrical properties of the skin. This is vital to the measurement of hydration, because the skin’s electric properties change in a rather predictable pattern, in response to hydration and dehydration.

The device has undergone extreme tests in a laboratory, which were first done using custom-made artificial skins. These skins were rendered to have a vast range of hydration levels, and the readings were comparable to those of large-scale hydration monitors.  After much testing, researchers determined that the device could be worn throughout the world, unaffected by differing weather and humidity.

Different options available?

This sensor could be inserted into two different wearable options.  One could choose a wristwatch or an adhesive patch to wear on the chest.  Each design would still send a wireless signal to software on a mobile device.

Professor Yong Zhu, one of the researchers involved in the project, explains the application further: “Our sensor could be used to protect the health of people working in hot conditions, improve athletic performance and safety, and to track hydration in older adults or in medical patients suffering from various conditions. It can even be used to tell how effective skin moisturizers are for cosmetics.”

 

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