MIT Researchers have developed a diaper that in combination with a moisture sensor can detect humidity and inform you about it. The sensor has an estimated manufacturing cost of less than 2 cents of dollar, becoming a more affordable disposable alternative than other smart diaper solutions.
Which are the benefits associated to smart diaper?
Smart diapers could be useful in a variety of situations with benefits both for users and caregivers. Mainly worn by babies, but also by the elderly and by those patients that can't take care of themselves, the integration of sensors on diapers could not just decrease the reaction time of caregivers, but also provide additional information that can be used to anticipate and understand certain health problems such as constipation or incontinence. As a result, the probabilities of experimenting rashes and some infections would decrease both for baby and aging populations.
How does the developed solution work?
The diaper integrates a moisture sensor that is based on a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag covered by a layer of a super absorbent polymer or hydrogel. When the hydrogel becomes wet, its' properties change, it becomes conductive and triggers the RFID tag that in turn sends a radio signal to a close receiver. This receiver, being connected to the internet, is able to communicate with your smartphone and to notify you about the event.
Based on the research done, and when the diaper is fully wet, the sensor designed is able to communicate with a receiver far up to 1 meter. By adding small amounts of copper to the sensor, the conductivity could raise and so would do the communication range.
Which are the advantages in front of other smart diapers solutions?
The main advantages of the solution developed by the MIT researchers are related to its' convenience and costs. Some diaper solutions come with wetness indicators stamped on the outside of the diaper that do not allow remote monitoring and that normally require additional time to undress the patient and reach the actual diaper. Other solutions instead consist on bulky battery-powered devices that attach to the outside of the diaper and that use Bluetooth or other protocols to communicate with caregivers. The inconveniences in this case are related to the comfort of the patient, the added work for the caregiver who needs to clean the sensor before reusing them and the retail costs of the sensors estimated at 40 dollars.