Researchers at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) in Singapore have created a sensor-enabled adult diaper that monitors wetness and transmits alerts to caregivers via SMS. The system is designed to make sure no one lies in soiled diapers for longer than they should, avoiding rashes and infections that can result from insufficient changes.
The system is comprised of a thin disposable sensor strip, a compact wireless transmitter and a receiver. The sensor can be integrated into current standard adult diapers. The low-cost strip, that could be made of metal, plastic or paper, can be disposed of after use, and the wireless transmitter is easily attached and removed for reuse.
Once embedded in the diaper, the sensor monitors the wetness level in the diaper, and once it reaches a preset level, it will transmit a signal wirelessly to the caregivers through SMS so the caregiver can get into action and change the diaper.
The prototype was tested on 20 elderly residents at a retirement home in Singapore between November and December 2013 and validated by the Agency for Integrated Care and geriatrician Dr Philip Yap, who works at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. The system was found to deliver a reliable performance, with patients wearing sensors spending 90 percent less time in wet diapers than those without sensor-enabled diapers. Each sensor-embedded diaper was changed within minutes after the caregiver received the alert.
IBN created a spin-off company called Wet Alert to commercialize the technology, which won the 2014 Bronze Prize at the Long-Term Care Quality Festival Poster Competition organized by the Ministry of Health and the Agency for Integrated Care.
As an aside, when we came across a similar concept for baby diapers back in 2013 it was (justifiably) panned as a silly idea, but several commenters pointed out the the potential value of using such a system in adult care scenarios, particularly for patients with speech or cognition issues.