PROBLEM: Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes excessive sweating anywhere on your body where you have sweat glands. Palmar hyperhidrosis is characterized by excessive sweating in the palms. To reduce the amount of perspiration, a novel transdermal technique called iontophoresis is used.
Everyone's hands or feet sweat, but with palmar hyperhidrosis, it's a lot of sweat with the reason being unknown. It's not dependent on temperature or nervousness, though these conditions can increase the severity. As you know if you suffer from this condition too, it's embarrassing and can make basic tasks like using a touch screen difficult. For people with professions like a pianist it makes it extremely hard to play the piano due to slippery palms.
INNOVATION: Iontophoresis machines are of two types – tap water-based and dry. HydroDry is a glove-based dry iontophoresis machine that uses the sweat secreted by the palms as a conducting medium instead of tap water and treats sweaty hands by sending an electric current to thin aluminum sheets that are placed at the base of the gloves where the palms rest. The electric current is sent to one palm then moves through your body and into the second glove and back to the machine. This creates a closed circuit between the aluminium sheets in the gloves, the body and the HydroDry controller and thus current flows.
The controller has a couple of advantages over a few DIY iontophoresis machines:
- Automatic current polarity reversal
- Timer modes
- Easy to use
MANUFACTURING/DESIGN: The main components of the controller (Figure 3) are a motor driver and a control unit with an OLED screen. The motor driver gets a 12V DC power supply and generates a current ranging between 5mA and 20mA and automatically reverses the current polarity from positive to negative for half time. Say you have selected a timer mode of 20 minutes; then the current is supplied in positive polarity for 10 minutes and negative polarity for another 10 minutes. The OLED screen displays the timer data and a progress bar to let you know how far through the treatment you are. The gloves are built using an odor-free breathable material that is wear-resistant with an aluminium sheet placed on its base. For the iontophoresis treatment, the gloves are worn on the palms are then connected to the controller with means of alligator clip wires. A timer mode is selected and then press start.
MARKETABILITY: The potential for this device on a global scale is massive and aims to provide feasible and efficient devices to empower patients to manage hyperhidrosis. Compared to the commercial iontophoresis machines, the HydroDry will be around 70% cheaper than the existing machines taking per-unit component prices. This glove technology will be (a) safer since the power source is a DC rechargeable battery, (b) cheaper than existing iontophoresis machines, and (c) smaller in size compared to the large iontophoresis machines and can fit in your pants back pockets and can be carried easily anywhere.