If I could create a fantasy device that would change my life, and the lives of others, I would create a topical sensor that could measure a person’s level of hydration. Another way to say this might be to call it a “dehydration sensor” that sits on top of the skin. Dehydration is essentially an imbalance between sodium and water in blood. This tiny sensor could detect all three types of dehydration in a human:
1) hypotonic or hyponatremic (primarily a loss of electrolytes, sodium in particular),
2) hypertonic or hypernatremic (primarily a loss of water),
3) isotonic or isonatremic (equal loss of water and electrolytes).
The sensor would be so small that it could fit on the tip of a pin head. I would embed these tiny sensors in a rubberized wrist band that a person could wear on his/her body, i.e. the inside of the wrist band would be lined with several of these tiny sensors. The power for these sensors would be generated from the electrical energy on human skin. The sensors would evaluate a person’s state of hydration, and that analog information would be displayed on the top of the wrist band in a very simple graphic design — a water droplet. Similar to the iPhone’s battery charge display, the water droplet graphic would reflect in real-time a person’s current level of hydration. And by pressing on the water droplet, a person would be able to read his/her exact percentage of hydration.
The dehydration sensor bands would be available in customizable sizes and colors, easy to order for any person’s wrist according to centimeters + millimeters.
This way, a person never has to worry or wonder if they have consumed enough water throughout the day, or if they are fully hydrated before doing a strenuous sports activity. In particular, these devices would serve the needs of elderly and sick persons, who are at high risk when dehydrated. Many common medical illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, liver failure, renal failure, and pneumonia are associated with dehydration, however if people had an innocuous and easy-to-use device to detect levels of hydration requiring little effort or thought to consume, they might stay more healthy throughout the day, and in general throughout the years.
**This idea was inspired by the fact that my husband doesn’t feel thirst very immediately and he frequently forgets to drink enough water; this condition causes him to become very dehydrated without realizing it. I also gave a lot of thought to the notion of a ‘dehydration sensor’ this past summer, when I was a caretaker for my Grandma who is a lymphoma patient, and for my mother-in-law, Pamela, who broke her femur bone and was bed-ridden for three weeks.
Research is ongoing in this area of bio-sensing and analysis. Here’s one article that I found on the subject: Bio-sensing article, by Deirdre Morris