Wearable devices come in all shapes and sizes. They’re designed to do everything from fitness tracking to sleep tracking. However, not all of them are built equally. That principle is on display with a new patch-style wearable from Gatorade—yes, the sports drink maker.
The Gx Sweat Patch is a clever way for athletes to monitor their sweat and hydration needs during a tough workout. Although the patch itself is relatively low-tech, it works with a companion app that makes use of image recognition and the user’s body metrics to make accurate recommendations.
Although the wearable isn’t likely to redefine the world of fitness, it is an example of how similar technology can be useful in the real-world. It’s also pretty cool for athletes at the top of their game that need in-depth body analytics.
For athletes, sweat isn’t just an annoyance—it’s a sign of getting better. It also provides valuable information about how the body is reacting to exertion. Sweat contains an assortment of electrolytes and minerals, which all need to be replaced when a workout is finished.
The Gx Sweat Patch was developed by a startup called Epicore Biosystems. It is made of thin polymer layers that are etched with microfluidic channels to collect a sweat sample. Before a workout, the athlete places the wearable patch on their inner forearm.
As they start to sweat, the channels in the patch start to fill up. Inside, an orange non-toxic dye makes the process more visible. Meanwhile, a second channel contains chemicals that react to chlorine and sodium in the sweat, turning shades of purple based on the amount of each electrolyte that’s present.
Once the channels in the patch are full at the end of a workout, athletes then use a companion app to snap a photo of the wearable. The app uses image recognition technology to analyze the patch and determine how much fluid was lost during the workout. It takes into account factors like age, sex, weight, workout intensity, and the weather to help make the determination.
From there, athletes are able to rehydrate with the necessary fluid and electrolytes to restore their body. It’s worth noting that the patch isn’t designed to provide a recommendation of how much Gatorade to drink. Although, given its branding, that is certainly the company’s goal.
Gatorade’s new Gx Sweat Patch is different than most wearables since it is only designed to be used once. Athletes will need to get a new patch for each different workout they do and when they are training in a different climate.
That being said, the sweat profile generated by the app is saved each time. So, once you capture it for an activity like running in mild weather, you’ll know how much fluid to drink after the same type of workout the next time you do it.
Thanks to its low-tech nature, the Gx Sweat Patch retails for $25 for a pack of two. That’s fairly reasonable for athletes that are looking for a new way to analyze their performance.
As noted, wearables like this one are a sign of the future. Companies around the world are researching the idea of flexible, patch-style wearables that capture key body metrics. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Gx Sweat Patch start a ripple effect of similar tech within the wearable industry.