Designed by North Carolina State University (NCSU) this new light weight sensor has the capability to measure skin hydration during exercise or in a hot environment. It is ideal for users that are afraid of dehydration and want to prevent it occurring. Due to its light weight design, it can be worn as a wrist or chest patch and is one of the latest wearable devices in medical and healthcare.
As a real-time information provider on hydration the design is quite complex, the main component includes two electrodes inside an elastic polymer composite. These electrodes are in direct contact with the user’s skin which measures the electrical properties through conductive nanowires. This is key aspect of monitoring skin hydration as this allows collected readings from the electrodes to signal the skin’s condition.
“We have developed technology that allows us to track an individual’s skin hydration in real time,” says Yong Zhu, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State “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.”
During the development process at NCSU, researchers first used artificial custom-made skin which all had a wide spectrum of hydration levels. The researchers varied the temperature levels of the surrounding environment and noted the performance of the wearable device and the sensor’s readings were not affected by ambient humidity this makes it suitable to be worn in any climate.
There is a choice of format for both users and researchers as the sensor is incorporated into two different wearable systems. The collected data can be relayed to the user’s smartphone by Bluetooth both these transfers can inform a researcher or the user about hydration readings.
“It’s difficult to measure a person’s hydration 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,” says John Muth, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State.
The device is currently in the prototype stage of development which shall come to completion in mid-2017 and be made available in late 2017 for consumer availability the precise date is yet to be confirmed.