The sweat-sensitive surfaces have been installed in the Nissan Juke SOAK concept, built in conjunction with Dutch conceptual design firm Droog, in response to a 2015 UK study that found driving while dehydrated is as dangerous as drink driving.
The study, funded by the European Hydration Institute and carried out by Loughborough University, discovered that:
- Drivers who had consumed only a sip of water (25ml) per hour made more than double the number of mistakes on the road than those who were properly hydrated
- The number of errors was equivalent to those displayed by people with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent
- Mistakes included late-braking, drifting within a lane and even crossing lane lines
Initially developed by Droog, SOAK is already used as a spray on compound on active wear to let people know when to rehydrate when exercising.
In the Juke, the SOAK seats and steering wheel turn yellow if they detect dehydration and blue if you’re sufficiently rehydrated.
While SOAK doesn’t do much for the car’s interior aesthetics it’s more obvious than natural symptoms of dehydration such as a dry mouth and tiredness, headaches and nausea – which the study found was ignored by two thirds of drivers.
While the SOAK steering wheel has merits, it’s unlikely the sweaty seats will be high on anyone’s option list. To that end Nissan has no plans to introduce them to production models, however, it hopes they’ll help raise awareness about the dangers of driving while dehydrated.
As part of that campaign it has produced a video with Nismo racing driver Lucas Ordonez showing how the Nissan Juke SOAK works straight after a workout.
How to stay hydrated while driving
- If you don’t drink and drive, you’re a bloody idiot. So fill those cupholders with water bottles and sip regularly. Don’t wait to feel thirsty as that’s a sign you’re already dehydrated.
- Avoid sugary drinks and food and caffeine before and during the drive as they’ll speed up dehydration.
- Wear light-coloured comfortable clothing to avoid sweating.
- Use moisturiser to help prevent fluid evaporating through your skin.
- Take regular breaks
- Snack on fruits with high water content such as watermelon.