We’ve heard about a number of experimental skin-worn biosensors, which analyze the wearer’s sweat to monitor everything from stress to blood glucose levels. Well, athletes can now actually buy one of the things, that is designed to keep them from getting dehydrated – it’s called Nix.
The problem with staying hydrated lies in the fact that if you don’t drink until you feel thirsty, you will already be somewhat dehydrated by that point in time.
As a result, athletes tend to drink preemptively, before they get thirsty. The only problem with that approach is that it may be difficult to gauge when and how often to drink – athletes want to stay hydrated, but they don’t want to cramp up, or go through their water supply too quickly.
That’s where the Nix Hydration Biosensor is designed to come in.
The product actually consists of three components: a single-use flexible patch that is temporarily adhered to the skin via kinesiology tape, the main biosensor device (called the Pod) which clicks onto the patch, and a free app on a Bluetooth-paired mobile device.
Utilizing that app, users start by indicating what sort of activity they’ll be performing, whether they’ll be indoors or outdoors, and what sort of liquid they’ll be drinking – if they’re not just drinking water, they can choose from a menu of popular electrolyte drinks.
Once they’ve started the activity and have really begun sweating – usually after about 25 minutes – some of their sweat will start accumulating in a reservoir within the patch. A microprocessor in the Pod analyzes that sweat in real time, calculating the wearer’s rate of fluid and electrolyte losses per hour.
It transmits that data to the app, which in turn regularly notifies the user, letting them know when and how much to drink in order to forestall dehydration. The app also provides a post-workout summary, helping the user to optimize their hydration regime going forward, and to select an electrolyte drink that best meets their needs.
The Pod weighs less than half an ounce (14 g), and should be good for up to 36 hours of runtime per battery-charge. The app is currently compatible with the iPhone, Apple Watch and Garmin sports watches. Garmin cycling computer and Android compatibility is coming soon, with Strava, TrainingPeaks, Wahoo and Zwift integration also in the works.
Should you want one for yourself, the Nix Hydration Biosensor is available now via the product website. A kit containing one Pod, four sweat patches, one charging case and one USB cable will cost you US$129. A pack of four replacement patches is priced at $25.