Op-Ed: Tackling Hydration in the Most Dehydrated Crowd A.K.A College Students

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Dehydration is a common yet significant problem many people face on a daily basis. Insufficient fluid intake is one of the primary causes of dull headaches and migraine but is also a risk factor for many more health issues. For this project, OSU design students teamed up with Priority Design to create wearable technology to support college students with a product/service enabling them to understand and monitor their hydration levels.
To narrow down the scope, the focus of the project was centered around
undergraduate college students who typically struggle with dehydration and staying hydrated. As many students transition into a new sense of independence, they also gain the freedom to drink what they want. Without dietary direction or constraints imposed by parents or guardians, many college students drink whatever tastes good with little consideration for how their bodies are being treated. The goal of this project is to offer a fun and simple way to remind these students to stay hydrated during their busy day and help reinforce better hydration habits.

Research:
To understand recurring issues that arise with dehydration, secondary research was done on four main topics of Business, Focus, Art and Science, and Tech. After completing secondary research, a general survey was sent out to the public. Voluntary participants were asked to answer a short survey about their general water intake and focused on understanding some reasons for personal dehydration. There were 48 overall participations in total with 43 being able to participate due to their education status. From the survey, over 50% of the student stated that they get reminded to drink water when they feel thirsty. Following that, 26% of them said that seeing their water bottle reminds them to stay hydrated. Some students highlighted that majority of their daily water intake comes from meal times and they stay dehydrated until their next meal.Most participants also stated that they prefered to stay hydrated with more flavorful liquids like coffee, tea, juice, etc. When asked why they forget to drink water, around 42% of participants, stated that they “simply just forget”. 21% percent said that they had busy schedules which prevented them from drinking. The other 9% explained that they didn’t like bringing their water bottle due to the inconvenience of carrying them.

Analysis:

Overall, analyzing the data highlighted two main points regarding the next steps forward. The first key issue was that people don’t want to be told to drink water but rather to be reminded. Many participants repeated the idea of often feeling nagged with water monitoring apps and wanted a more gentle push regarding hydration. The second key issue was that our solution had to focus on building and establishing habits with the user otherwise it would simply become another “as seen on tv” product. Often, participants stated that they buy devices and bottles to help them stay hydrated but forget them after a bit. Altogether the goal of this design/ solution should offer a fun and simple way to remind them to stay hydrated during their busy day and help reinforce better hydration habits.