Hydration Tracking Goes Mainstream as a Key Performance Metric


Hydration-sensing sweat patches will soon be ubiquitous.

The latest: Australia’s WearOptimo, makers of a microwearable hydration sensor, started clinical trials at Queensland University of Technology. The coin-size sticker’s microscopic electrodes read biomarkers just under the outer layer of the skin.

Following a $30M investment from the Queensland government, WearOptimo CEO Mark Kendall hopes to mass-produce 20M of them for applications in sport, aged care, and worker safety, particularly among Australia’s robust mining workforce.

“The vision for WearOptimo is to develop affordable wearable technology that offers early intervention and personalised monitoring to help people stay well and productive in their day-to-day lives.” 

A Burning Issue

Dehydration is a global health problem, shown to accelerate aging, bring on chronic disease, shorten life, and affect memory. Beyond just athletes, even mild hydration can have major detriments:

  • In the US, heat and dehydration cause at least 170K work-related injuries and as many as 2K fatalities each year.
  • Common among seniors, whose natural ability to detect dehydration is diminished, an estimated 20% of elderly in UK care homes are dehydrated.
  • An athlete’s performance can be impaired up to 29% with even mild, typically asymptomatic levels of dehydration.

Making matters worse, due to climate change, hotter days are on the rise — and detecting dehydration is notoriously difficult to monitor outside of bloodwork or lab tests.

That makes the potential impact of data-informed restorative rehydration a game changer.

An athlete’s solution. Addressing dehydration is becoming as a key metric of performance, and countless athlete-centred wearable solutions are on the rise:

  • Nix, a noninvasive skin patch evaluating fluid and electrolyte losses in real time, synced with Garmin to quantify hydration, with future integrations planned with Strava, Zwift, and more.
  • Epicore Biosystems, known for developing Gatorade’s Gx Sweat Patch, alerts wearers when their fluid loss exceeds 2% of body weight to prevent dehydration.
  • London’s FLOWBIO is developing its hydration skin patch with elite cyclists, meanwhile hDrop’s strap-on sensor has a deal with USA Cycling.

Elsewhere, Abbott has signalled its intention to extend the capabilities of its CGMs, with future consumer wearables detecting hydration, lactate, and more. And Apple has long been rumoured to be testing hydration sensors, with an Apple Watch-related patent filed in mid-2021.

Takeaway: Sweat sensors are just starting out, but, in the future, it’s not hard to imagine where everyone—from construction workers to athletes to fitness enthusiasts—relies on a connected dehydration wearables for peak performance and safety.

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