The Newest Performance Booster

A sensor that measures electrolyte levels in real-time could help athletes optimize on the go

Gatorade goes to great lengths to determine if “It” is in you. Sweat patches slapped on Maria Sharapova and Tiger Woods provide before and after snapshots of electrolyte levels and sweat rate. But, what about during competition? Swiss company Biotex is developing a garment with wireless sensors embedded in the lower back to provide real-time values for similar metrics. Hydrophilic and hydrophobic material draws the sweat into flexible sensors just two millimeters thick and a few square centimeters. Data can be stored for future analysis or transmitted to wireless phones or PDAs so athletes know to hit the water fountain before it’s too late.

“It’s like driving a car around town, if you don’t watch your gas gauge it will be too late and you’ll be empty,” said Project Coordinator Jean Luprano. “You need to know whether to slow down or if you can go faster.”

Monitoring levels of sodium, potassium, sweat rates and sweat pH is all within reach. Understanding how to interpret and adjust per the data is still to be determined. Medical applications for diabetics and obese children are also being pursued.