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This story originally appeared on foodandwine.com. For more articles like this, visit foodandwine.com.

August 08, 2015

As anybody who has spent time working out (or, really, just standing on a subway platform) in the middle of summer can attest, dehydration can sneak up on you. One minute you’re fine and the next you’re staggering around begging for a free cup of water from the nearest Jamba Juice. But what if you could get tipped off to your potential need for water before it became a problem? That’s the question Dutch designer Paulien Routs considered when she created her dehydration warning system and built it right into some workout gear.

For her SOAK project, Routs applied a sweat-sensitive coating to exercise clothes that changes color depending upon a person’s condition. If their sweat contains a high level of base fluids (meaning they are well-hydrated), the clothing turns blue. If their sweat is more acidic (meaning they are dehydrated), the clothing turns orange or brown.

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Routs tested the coating on people with different diets and workout regimens with fairly successful results. Someone who drank four glasses of water before a run came back with a blue shirt, whereas someone who drank six cups of coffee with milk (really, six cups of coffee?) stained their shirt rust orange.

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