Droog Design has partnered with Nissan to create an innovative one-off car. The vehicle, designed to promote the importance of hydration amongst drivers, indicates the hydration levels of drivers thanks to a unique dehydration warning system, created by designer Paulien Routs.
The car employs the sweat-sensitive textile coating SOAK, a color changing material, which is responsive to the composition of the micro-fluids found in our sweat. The SOAK coating changes color when it's in contact with perspiration - for example, on occupants' hands or clothes after exercise. When a person is sufficiently hydrated the SOAK coating turns blue, when a person is dehydrated it turns yellow, warning of low hydration levels.
In the Nissan Juke compact crossover car, the innovative textile coating has been applied to the steering wheel and seats, which turn blue or yellow or colours in between, indicating the (de)hydration levels of the driver. The treated textile is used as the base layer in the upholstery of the seats and steering wheel, covered with a laser-cut leather, which thanks to its open pattern, allows the textile to be in contact with the occupants' hands and clothes. The perforated leather is a custom design specially made for the one-off car, created to communicate the hydration levels in the most convenient way to the driver and front-passenger.
The one-off car has been created as a media activation, to inform drivers about the importance of drinking water to maintain concentration. While the dangers of driving after drinking alcohol are widely understood, there's relatively little research on drinking water to maintain concentration.
Designer and researcher Paulien Routs developed the textile coating in Droog's program Reality Tanks. The prototype product was developed in 2014 in collaboration with chemistry lab Thewa Innovation, The Dutch Cosmetic Association and aesthetic doctor Annebeth Kroeskop.
"I originally created SOAK to be used on workout attire, but when Nissan approached me with plans to implement the technology in a Juke to demonstrate the technology as a concept in their 'do drink (water) and drive' campaign, I thought it was fantastic," commented Routs. "Within my work, I aim to create innovative materials or designs the create new interactions with its user, that offer information about, in this case, the health of our body. It's about contextualizing fashion in a new way."