MIT developers design ‘smart diapers’ that can detect when it’s time to change them



While we might still not have flying cars in 2020, we have smartphones, smart cars and smart homes.

Now, thanks to a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we have smart diapers.

The revolutionary diapers can help diagnose infections and help both babies and senior citizens. They don’t look like anything out of a sci-fi movie, though - they look like any other disposable diaper.

"Maybe they can focus on more important things and wait for the alert to come through to them," said Nithin Kantareddy, an MIT graduate student.

Here’s how it works: A small moisture sensor, which has a radio frequency tag, is placed inside the diaper. When the sensor detects dampness, it’ll transmit a signal to a nearby Wi-Fi receiver that’s placed near the person wearing the diaper. That signal then sends a notification to a smartphone or a computer, alerting a caregiver or parent that the diaper is wet.

“It can help in identifying skin hydration and prevent rashes from happening on the skin because, if the diaper is left on for too long, it can lead to skin rashes," said Pankhuri Sen, a researcher at MIT.

Researchers say the smart diaper may eventually help nurses working in neonatal units who have to care for multiple babies at once.

"The nurse doesn't have to go each of them individually. She will be notified of this particular baby on this particular unit that needs to be changed, and she can go change that," said Sen.

But it’s not just for babies. The technology could eventually be used to help elderly patients who may be bedridden and unable to take care of themselves.

“So if you have this kind of automatic diaper that lets you know, then it’s convenient for both the patient and caregiver,” said Kantareddy.

The diaper can be made for less than 5 cents. The team is currently working with a manufacturer in Latin America to test out the smart diaper.

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