The consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol are well documented. However, there's something much more common that happens every single day: driving while not properly hydrated.
Nissan wants to help combat dehydrated driving and teamed up with Droog, a Dutch design brand, to create a sweat-sensing material for the steering wheel and driver's seat to inform drivers when they may need to grab a drink of water, non-alcoholic of course.
A 2015 study by the European Hydration Institute showed drivers that took only a sip of water before getting behind the wheel made more than double the number of mistakes on the road than properly hydrated drivers. To qualify the research further, the number of errors dehydrated drivers displayed was equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent—the legal limit across much of the United States.
Nissan and Droog's seat and steering wheel material, called SOAK coating, simply changes colors when it comes in contact with perspiration. Thus, it alerts drivers when they're on the verge of dehydration. A yellow color signals the driver needs to drink more water, while blue means proper hydration. Droog originally designed SOAK to help athletes know when they needed to rehydrate, but its application in a Nissan Juke shows the material's versatility.
Nissan doesn't plan to add SOAK material to any production cars, but it did enlist Lucas Ordoñez, a Nismo racing driver, to help spread awareness with the accompanying video. Rehydrating before driving is the only time it's alright to hit the bottle and get behind the wheel.