MIT researchers have developed a moisture sensor to avoid painful rashes and miserable babies caused by wet diapers. The new “smart” diaper can send signals to nearby receivers when it’s time to change. Such alerts are either received through smartphone or computer notifications.
The diaper sensor uses a passive frequency identification (RFID) tag that is placed in a specific layer under a type of hydrogel used in diapers to soak moisture. The material expands when wet and becomes slightly conductive, which in turn triggers the RFID tag to send signals.
Apart from helping to avoid tantrums, these smart diapers can be used to help identify health problems like constipation – something that MIT is still working on.
In fact, MIT AutoID Lab research assistant Pankhuri Sen even envisions the smart diapers to be integrated into adult diapers. “Diapers are used not just for babies, but for aging populations, or patients who are bedridden and unable to take care of themselves,” Sen says. “It would be convenient in these cases for a caregiver to be notified that a patient, particularly in a multi-bed hospital, needs changing.”
While smart diapers are in the process of refinement, MIT looks at connecting the RFID to the internet, or even assistive devices such as canes and wheelchairs to help out elderly patients.
*Photo from thevege.com