Nissan demonstrates sweat-sensing seats to fight dehydration

Sweat-covered seats aren’t most people’s idea of a good thing, but Nissan thinks they are. The Japanese automaker is demonstrating technology that changes the color of car seats and steering wheels based on sweat. Nissan believes this will allow the car to detect when the driver is dehydrated.

Nissan designer Paulien Routs, and Droog Design sought to show how useful sweat can be with the Nissan Juke Soak. That last part refers to the trademarked, sweat-sensitive textile material the car’s interior is coated with. You can see exactly how it works in the embedded video. Soak can also be sprayed onto clothes to give the wearer a better idea of his or her hydration level, which could be particularly useful when working out.

While the concept of car seats that change color from sweat may seem a bit silly, Nissan claims driver dehydration is no laughing matter. The automaker contends that dehydration has as big an impact on reaction times and overall alertness as drunk driving. That’s based on a 2015 study conducted by England’s Loughborough University, and funded by the European Hydration Institute, a research organization that promotes hydration.

Staying hydrated should be as important for driving as it is for any other activity, but car buyers may not be interested in seats that change colors when they sweat. Besides being a bit undignified, it’s also sort of an inefficient way to let drivers know they might be dehydrated. The color changes won’t be highly apparent if you’re sitting in the seat, after all. Drivers may also simply ignore the car’s warning about their hydration levels. Given the number of warnings and alerts modern cars are capable of emitting, that wouldn’t be difficult.

But the Nissan Juke Soak is a reminder that drivers need to do their part to keep the roads safe. A driver must be calm, alert, and awake at all times, something that is easy to forget in an age where driving is taken for granted. Everyone is responsible for making sure they are fit to drive before getting behind the wheel. That is, at least until autonomous cars arrive.