Smart diapers tell you when they need changing

18 Aug

Prompt replacement of wet and soiled diapers is a challenge for those who care

for elderly or bedridden patients who are unable to communicate this need, such as the

cognitively impaired. Now, researchers have developed a smart diaper that alerts

caregivers of when it needs changing.

smart diaper system
The system alerts caregivers via an SMS that the diaper needs changing.
Image credit: IBN/A*STAR

Researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of the

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore have invented an

“intelligent continence management system.”

Lying in soiled or wet diapers is not only unhygienic and uncomfortable, it can also

lead to skin rashes and infection, says Professor Jackie Y. Ying, IBN Executive

Director and the leader of the research project. She adds:

“While increasing the frequency of diaper checks and changes may help to

reduce this problem, it would also add to the workload of caregivers. Clearly, there is

a need for an alternative solution.”

The system that she and her team have developed comprises a thin, disposable sensor

strip, a receiver, some software, and a compact wireless transmitter.

The inexpensive sensor can be easily incorporated in currently available adult

diapers. The thin, light strip made of metal, plastic and paper is embedded in the

diaper and is disposed of after use.

The wireless transmitter is attached to the sensor and is easily disconnected and

reconnected to a new sensor in a fresh diaper for reuse.

Patients spent 90% less time in wet and soiled diapers

The sensor monitors the wetness of the diaper and when it reaches a certain level,

it sends a message via the wireless transmitter to the caregiver using a preferred

method, such as SMS.

The researchers validated their system in late 2013, on 20 elderly residents in a

care home. The tests were supervised by Dr. Philip Yap of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore,

where he specializes in geriatric medicine.

The test showed that the system was robust, reliable and easy to use. The results

indicate it has a high level of accuracy in detecting soiled and wet diapers.

Patients wearing the smart diapers spent around 90% less time in wet and

soiled diapers compared to those wearing normal diapers, say the researchers, who note

that smart diapers were changed within minutes of caregivers receiving the


Dr. Yap, who is also Adjunct Clinician Scientist with IBN, says the smart diaper

sensor is a significant advance that allows them to provide a level of care that

“upholds the dignity of our patients and reduces the risk of complications such as skin

breakdown and infections.”

The patented technology behind the system has already been licensed to an IBN spin-off company, Wet Alert. Prof. Ying says:

“We are now working with Wet Alert to develop the prototype into a

commercial product by further improving its user-friendliness and reducing the

production cost.”

Meanwhile, Medical News Today recently reported on new research that shows how

your smartphone can tell if you are suffering from

depression. In the The Journal of Medical Research, researchers describe

how the pattern of use that is captured in a smartphone can reveal if the user is


Written by Catharine Paddock PhD

Copyright: Medical News Today

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