Tag Archives: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology study: The catch to putting warning labels on fake news

5 Mar

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD BLACK FART:

Moi read with interest the following article from the Daily Mail, Can tear-jerkers turn you liberal? As Good As It Gets and The Rainmaker make you soppy, says study:

Sentimental films make you more liberal, research suggests.
Political scientists found that Hollywood movies are better able to change attitudes – in a left-wing direction – than advertising or news reports.
Todd Adkins, of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, said audiences seemed to turn off their critical faculties when they reach the cinema.
Sentimental films, such as The Rainmaker (pictured), make you more liberal, research suggests
‘Viewers come expecting to be entertained and are not prepared to encounter and evaluate political messages as they would during campaign advertisements or network news,’ he said.
Dr Adkins’ research, published in the journal Social Science Quarterly, was based on a study of 268 students who were asked about their political views, shown a film and then questioned again.
Half identified themselves as politically conservative.
Political scientists found that Hollywood movies are better able to change attitudes – in a left-wing direction – than advertising or news reports….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2530224/Can-tear-jerkers-turn-liberal-As-Good-As-It-Gets-The-Rainmaker-make-soppy-says-study.html#ixzz2pC6I7eaD

See, Moving Pictures? Experimental Evidence of Cinematic Influence on Political Attitudes†
Todd Adkins,
Jeremiah J. Castle*
Article first published online: 18 NOV 2013
DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12070
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ssqu.12070/abstract

There is a long history of movies being used as propaganda. The History Learning Site said this in the article, Propaganda in Nazi Germany:

Hitler came to power in January 1933. By May 1933, the Nazi Party felt sufficiently strong to publicly demonstrate where their beliefs were going when Goebbels organised the first of the infamous book burning episodes. Books that did not match the Nazi ideal was burnt in public – loyal Nazis ransacked libraries to remove the ‘offending’ books. “Where one burns books, one eventually burns people” commented the author Brecht.
The same approach was used in films. The Nazis controlled film production. Films released to the public concentrated on certain issues : the Jews; the greatness of Hitler; the way of life for a true Nazi especially children, and as World War Two approached, how badly Germans who lived in countries in Eastern Europe were treated. Leni Riefenstahl was given a free hand in producing Nazi propaganda films. A young film producer, she had impressed Hitler with her ability. It was Riefenstahl who made “Triumph of Will” – considered one of the greatest of propaganda films despite its contents.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/propaganda_in_nazi_germany.htm

Hollywood films quite often represent cultural propaganda.

Jonathan Chait wrote in the New York article, The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Is on Your Screen:

You don’t have to be an especially devoted consumer of film or television (I’m not) to detect a pervasive, if not total, liberalism. Americans for Responsible Television and Christian Leaders for Responsible Television would be flipping out over the modern family in Modern Family, not to mention the girls of Girls and the gays of Glee, except that those groups went defunct long ago. The liberal analysis of the economic crisis—that unregulated finance took wild gambles—has been widely reflected, even blatantly so, in movies like Margin Call, Too Big to Fail, and the Wall Street sequel. The conservative view that all blame lies with regulations forcing banks to lend to poor people has not, except perhaps in the amateur-hour production of Atlas Shrugged. The muscular Rambo patriotism that briefly surged in the eighties, and seemed poised to return after 9/11, has disappeared. In its place we have series like Homeland, which probes the moral complexities of a terrorist’s worldview, and action stars like Jason Bourne, whose enemies are not just foreign baddies but also paranoid Dick Cheney figures. The conservative denial of climate change, and the low opinion of environmentalism that accompanies it, stands in contrast to cautionary end-times tales like Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and the tree-hugging mysticism of Avatar. The decade has also seen a revival of political films and shows, from the Aaron Sorkin oeuvre through Veep and The Campaign, both of which cast oilmen as the heavies. Even The Muppets features an evil oil driller stereotypically named “Tex Richman.”
In short, the world of popular culture increasingly reflects a shared reality in which the Republican Party is either absent or anathema. That shared reality is the cultural assumptions, in particular, of the younger voters whose support has become the bedrock of the Democratic Party….
A trio of communications professors found that watching Will & Grace made audiences more receptive to gay rights, and especially viewers who had little contact in real life with gays and lesbians. And that one show was merely a component of a concerted effort by Hollywood—dating back to Soap in the late seventies, which featured Billy Crystal’s groundbreaking portrayal of a sympathetic gay character, through Modern Family—to prod audiences to accept homosexuality. Likewise, the political persona of Barack Obama attained such rapid acceptance and popularity in part because he represented the real-world version of an archetype that, after a long early period of servile black stereotypes, has appeared in film and television for years: a sober, intelligent African-American as president, or in some other position of power….
This capacity to mold the moral premises of large segments of the public, and especially the youngest and most impressionable elements, may or may not be unfair. What it is undoubtedly is a source of cultural (and hence political) power. Liberals like to believe that our strength derives solely from the natural concordance of the people, that we represent what most Americans believe, or would believe if not for the distorting rightward pull of Fox News and the Koch brothers and the rest. Conservatives surely do benefit from these outposts of power, and most would rather indulge their own populist fantasies than admit it. But they do have a point about one thing: We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite. http://nymag.com/news/features/chait-liberal-movies-tv-2012-8/

Some social media companies are labeling news or posts which they consider fake as “fake news” based upon their standards.

Science Daily reported in The catch to putting warning labels on fake news:

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook began putting warning tags on news stories fact-checkers judged to be false. But there’s a catch: Tagging some stories as false makes readers more willing to believe other stories and share them with friends, even if those additional, untagged stories also turn out to be false.
That is the main finding of a new study co-authored by an MIT professor, based on multiple experiments with news consumers. The researchers call this unintended consequence — in which the selective labeling of false news makes other news stories seem more legitimate — the “implied-truth effect” in news consumption.
“Putting a warning on some content is going to make you think, to some extent, that all of the other content without the warning might have been checked and verified,” says David Rand, the Erwin H. Schell Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the study.
“There’s no way the fact-checkers can keep up with the stream of misinformation, so even if the warnings do really reduce belief in the tagged stories, you still have a problem, because of the implied truth effect,” Rand adds.
Moreover, Rand observes, the implied truth effect “is actually perfectly rational” on the part of readers, since there is ambiguity about whether untagged stories were verified or just not yet checked. “That makes these warnings potentially problematic,” he says. “Because people will reasonably make this inference.”
Even so, the findings also suggest a solution: Placing “Verified” tags on stories found to be true eliminates the problem.
The paper, “The Implied Truth Effect,” has just appeared in online form in the journal Management Science. In addition to Rand, the authors are Gordon Pennycook, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Regina; Adam Bear, a postdoc in the Cushman Lab at Harvard University; and Evan T. Collins, an undergraduate researcher on the project from Yale University.
BREAKING: More labels are better
To conduct the study, the researchers conducted a pair of online experiments with a total of 6,739 U.S. residents, recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. Participants were given a variety of true and false news headlines in a Facebook-style format. The false stories were chosen from the website Snopes.com and included headlines such as “BREAKING NEWS: Hillary Clinton Filed for Divorce in New York Courts” and “Republican Senator Unveils Plan To Send All Of America’s Teachers Through A Marine Bootcamp.”
The participants viewed an equal mix of true stories and false stories, and were asked whether they would consider sharing each story on social media. Some participants were assigned to a control group in which no stories were labeled; others saw a set of stories where some of the false ones displayed a “FALSE” label; and some participants saw a set of stories with warning labels on some false stories and “TRUE” verification labels for some true stories.
In the first place, stamping warnings on false stories does make people less likely to consider sharing them. For instance, with no labels being used at all, participants considered sharing 29.8 percent of false stories in the sample. That figure dropped to 16.1 percent of false stories that had a warning label attached.
However, the researchers also saw the implied truth effect take effect. Readers were willing to share 36.2 percent of the remaining false stories that did not have warning labels, up from 29.8 percent.
“We robustly observe this implied-truth effect, where if false content doesn’t have a warning, people believe it more and say they would be more likely to share it,” Rand notes.
But when the warning labels on some false stories were complemented with verification labels on some of the true stories, participants were less likely to consider sharing false stories, across the board. In those circumstances, they shared only 13.7 percent of the headlines labeled as false, and just 26.9 percent of the nonlabeled false stories.
“If, in addition to putting warnings on things fact-checkers find to be false, you also put verification panels on things fact-checkers find to be true, then that solves the problem, because there’s no longer any ambiguity,” Rand says. “If you see a story without a label, you know it simply hasn’t been checked.”
Policy implications
The findings come with one additional twist that Rand emphasizes, namely, that participants in the survey did not seem to reject warnings on the basis of ideology. They were still likely to change their perceptions of stories with warning or verifications labels, even if discredited news items were “concordant” with their stated political views.
“These results are not consistent with the idea that our reasoning powers are hijacked by our partisanship,” Rand says…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200303140216.htm

Citation:

The catch to putting warning labels on fake news
Date: March 3, 2020
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
A new study finds disclaimers on some false news stories make people more readily believe other false stories.

Journal Reference:
Gordon Pennycook, Adam Bear, Evan T. Collins, David G. Rand. The Implied Truth Effect: Attaching Warnings to a Subset of Fake News Headlines Increases Perceived Accuracy of Headlines Without Warnings. Management Science, 2020; DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2019.3478

Here is the press release from MIT:

The catch to putting warning labels on fake news

Study finds disclaimers on some false news stories make people more readily believe other false stories.

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office

March 2, 2020

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook began putting warning tags on news stories fact-checkers judged to be false. But there’s a catch: Tagging some stories as false makes readers more willing to believe other stories and share them with friends, even if those additional, untagged stories also turn out to be false.

That is the main finding of a new study co-authored by an MIT professor, based on multiple experiments with news consumers. The researchers call this unintended consequence — in which the selective labeling of false news makes other news stories seem more legitimate — the “implied-truth effect” in news consumption.

“Putting a warning on some content is going to make you think, to some extent, that all of the other content without the warning might have been checked and verified,” says David Rand, the Erwin H. Schell Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the study.

“There’s no way the fact-checkers can keep up with the stream of misinformation, so even if the warnings do really reduce belief in the tagged stories, you still have a problem, because of the implied truth effect,” Rand adds.

Moreover, Rand observes, the implied truth effect “is actually perfectly rational” on the part of readers, since there is ambiguity about whether untagged stories were verified or just not yet checked. “That makes these warnings potentially problematic,” he says. “Because people will reasonably make this inference.”

Even so, the findings also suggest a solution: Placing “Verified” tags on stories found to be true eliminates the problem.

The paper, “The Implied Truth Effect,” has just appeared in online form in the journal Management Science. In addition to Rand, the authors are Gordon Pennycook, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Regina; Adam Bear, a postdoc in the Cushman Lab at Harvard University; and Evan T. Collins, an undergraduate researcher on the project from Yale University.
BREAKING: More labels are better

To conduct the study, the researchers conducted a pair of online experiments with a total of 6,739 U.S. residents, recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. Participants were given a variety of true and false news headlines in a Facebook-style format. The false stories were chosen from the website Snopes.com and included headlines such as “BREAKING NEWS: Hillary Clinton Filed for Divorce in New York Courts” and “Republican Senator Unveils Plan To Send All Of America’s Teachers Through A Marine Bootcamp.”

The participants viewed an equal mix of true stories and false stories, and were asked whether they would consider sharing each story on social media. Some participants were assigned to a control group in which no stories were labeled; others saw a set of stories where some of the false ones displayed a “FALSE” label; and some participants saw a set of stories with warning labels on some false stories and “TRUE” verification labels for some true stories.
In the first place, stamping warnings on false stories does make people less likely to consider sharing them. For instance, with no labels being used at all, participants considered sharing 29.8 percent of false stories in the sample. That figure dropped to 16.1 percent of false stories that had a warning label attached.

However, the researchers also saw the implied truth effect take effect. Readers were willing to share 36.2 percent of the remaining false stories that did not have warning labels, up from 29.8 percent.

“We robustly observe this implied-truth effect, where if false content doesn’t have a warning, people believe it more and say they would be more likely to share it,” Rand notes.
But when the warning labels on some false stories were complemented with verification labels on some of the true stories, participants were less likely to consider sharing false stories, across the board. In those circumstances, they shared only 13.7 percent of the headlines labeled as false, and just 26.9 percent of the nonlabeled false stories.

“If, in addition to putting warnings on things fact-checkers find to be false, you also put verification panels on things fact-checkers find to be true, then that solves the problem, because there’s no longer any ambiguity,” Rand says. “If you see a story without a label, you know it simply hasn’t been checked.”
Policy implications

The findings come with one additional twist that Rand emphasizes, namely, that participants in the survey did not seem to reject warnings on the basis of ideology. They were still likely to change their perceptions of stories with warning or verifications labels, even if discredited news items were “concordant” with their stated political views.

“These results are not consistent with the idea that our reasoning powers are hijacked by our partisanship,” Rand says.
Rand notes that, while continued research on the subject is important, the current study suggests a straightforward way that social media platforms can take action to further improve their systems of labeling online news content.

“I think this has clear policy implications when platforms are thinking about attaching warnings,” he says. “They should be very careful to check not just the effect of the warnings on the content with the tag, but also check the effects on all the other content.”

Support for the research was provided, in part, by the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative of the Miami Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
________________________________________
More information: Gordon Pennycook et al, The Implied Truth Effect: Attaching Warnings to a Subset of Fake News Headlines Increases Perceived Accuracy of Headlines Without Warnings, Management Science (2020). DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2019.3478

The issue is whether the public in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in content. Schools must teach children critical thinking skills and point out reality does not often involve perfection, there are warts.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology study: Low-cost ‘smart’ diaper can notify caregiver when it’s wet

16 Feb

Web MD reported in Diaper Rash Overview:

Diaper rash appears on the skin under a diaper. Diaper rash typically occurs in infants and children younger than 2 years, but the rash can also be seen in people who are incontinent or paralyzed.
Almost every baby will get diaper rash at least once during the first 3 years of life, with the majority of these babies 9-12 months old. This is the time when the baby is still sitting most of the time and is also eating solid foods, which may change the acidity of the bowel movements.

Diaper Rash Causes
• Friction: Most diaper rash is caused by friction that develops when sensitive baby skin is rubbed by wet diapers. This results in a red, shiny rash on exposed areas.
• Irritation: The skin under the diaper gets red from irritants such as feces, urine, or cleaning agents. Irritation can be caused by the diaper or by the acid in urine and bowel movements. This rash appears red in the area where the diaper has rubbed and is normally not seen in the folds of the skin.
• Candidal infection: The rash of a candidal infection, also known as fungal or yeast infection, usually has a bright, beefy red appearance and is very common after the use of antibiotics. Candida is a fungal microorganism that is typically found in warm, moist places such as in the mouth. In fact, Candida is the same organism that causes thrush.
• Allergic reaction: The rash may be a reaction to diaper wipes, diapers, laundry detergent, soap, lotion, or the elastic in plastic pants.
• Seborrhea: This is an oily, yellow-colored rash that may also be seen in other areas of the body, such as the face, head, and neck.
https://www.webmd.com/children/diaper-rash#2

It is important to monitor the child or adult to ensure wet diapers are changed. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research project studied a smart diaper.

Science Daily reported in Low-cost ‘smart’ diaper can notify caregiver when it’s wet:

For some infants, a wet diaper is cause for an instant, vociferous demand to be changed, while other babies may be unfazed and happy to haul around the damp cargo for lengthy periods without complaint. But if worn too long, a wet diaper can cause painful rashes, and miserable babies — and parents.
Now MIT researchers have developed a “smart” diaper embedded with a moisture sensor that can alert a caregiver when a diaper is wet. When the sensor detects dampness in the diaper, it sends a signal to a nearby receiver, which in turn can send a notification to a smartphone or computer.
The sensor consists of a passive radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, that is placed below a layer of super absorbent polymer, a type of hydrogel that is typically used in diapers to soak up moisture. When the hydrogel is wet, the material expands and becomes slightly conductive — enough to trigger the RFID tag to send a radio signal to an RFID reader up to 1 meter away.
The researchers say the design is the first demonstration of hydrogel as a functional antenna element for moisture sensing in diapers using RFID. They estimate that the sensor costs less than 2 cents to manufacture, making it a low-cost, disposable alternative to other smart diaper technology.
Over time, smart diapers may help record and identify certain health problems, such as signs of constipation or incontinence. The new sensor may be especially useful for nurses working in neonatal units and caring for multiple babies at a time.
Pankhuri Sen, a research assistant in MIT’s AutoID Laboratory, envisions that the sensor could also be integrated into adult diapers, for patients who might be unaware or too embarrassed to report themselves that a change is needed.
“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 multibed hospital, needs changing.”
“This could prevent rashes and some infections like urinary tract infections, in both aging and infant populations,” adds collaborator Sai Nithin R. Kantareddy, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Sen, Kantareddy, and their colleagues at MIT, including Rahul Bhattacharryya and Sanjay Sarma, along with Joshua Siegel at Michigan State University, have published their results today in the journal IEEE Sensors. Sarma is MIT’s vice president for open learning and the Fred Fort Flowers and Daniel Fort Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
Sticker sense
Many off-the-shelf diapers incorporate wetness indicators in the form of strips, printed along the outside of a diaper, that change color when wet — a design that usually requires removing multiple layers of clothing to be able to see the actual diaper.
Companies looking into smart diaper technology are considering wetness sensors that are wireless or Bluetooth-enabled, with devices that attach to a diaper’s exterior, along with bulky batteries to power long-range connections to the internet. These sensors are designed to be reusable, requiring a caregiver to remove and clean the sensor before attaching it to each new diaper. Current sensors being explored for smart diapers, Sen estimates, retail for over $40.
RFID tags in contrast are low-cost and disposable, and can be printed in rolls of individual stickers, similar to barcode tags. MIT’s AutoID Laboratory, founded by Sarma, has been at the forefront of RFID tag development, with the goal of using them to connect our physical world with the internet…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200214144334.htm

Citation:

Low-cost ‘smart’ diaper can notify caregiver when it’s wet
Design combines a common diaper material with RFID technology

Date: February 14, 2020
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
Researchers have developed a ”smart” diaper embedded with a moisture sensor that can alert a caregiver when a diaper is wet. When the sensor detects dampness in the diaper, it sends a signal to a nearby receiver, which in turn can send a notification to a smartphone or computer.

Journal Reference:
Pankhuri Sen, Sai Nithin R. Kantareddy, Rahul Bhattacharyya, Sanjay E. Sarma, Joshua E. Siegel. Low-cost diaper wetness detection using hydrogel-based RFID tags. IEEE Sensors Journal, 2019; 1 DOI: 10.1109/JSEN.2019.2954746

Here’s the press release from MIT:

Low-cost “smart” diaper can notify caregiver when it’s wet
Design combines a common diaper material with RFID technology.

Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office

For some infants, a wet diaper is cause for an instant, vociferous demand to be changed, while other babies may be unfazed and happy to haul around the damp cargo for lengthy periods without complaint. But if worn too long, a wet diaper can cause painful rashes, and miserable babies — and parents.
Now MIT researchers have developed a “smart” diaper embedded with a moisture sensor that can alert a caregiver when a diaper is wet. When the sensor detects dampness in the diaper, it sends a signal to a nearby receiver, which in turn can send a notification to a smartphone or computer.
The sensor consists of a passive radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, that is placed below a layer of super absorbent polymer, a type of hydrogel that is typically used in diapers to soak up moisture. When the hydrogel is wet, the material expands and becomes slightly conductive — enough to trigger the RFID tag to send a radio signal to an RFID reader up to 1 meter away.
The researchers say the design is the first demonstration of hydrogel as a functional antenna element for moisture sensing in diapers using RFID. They estimate that the sensor costs less than 2 cents to manufacture, making it a low-cost, disposable alternative to other smart diaper technology.
Over time, smart diapers may help record and identify certain health problems, such as signs of constipation or incontinence. The new sensor may be especially useful for nurses working in neonatal units and caring for multiple babies at a time.
Pankhuri Sen, a research assistant in MIT’s AutoID Laboratory, envisions that the sensor could also be integrated into adult diapers, for patients who might be unaware or too embarrassed to report themselves that a change is needed.
“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 multibed hospital, needs changing.”
“This could prevent rashes and some infections like urinary tract infections, in both aging and infant populations,” adds collaborator Sai Nithin R. Kantareddy, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Sen, Kantareddy, and their colleagues at MIT, including Rahul Bhattacharryya and Sanjay Sarma, along with Joshua Siegel at Michigan State University, have published their results today in the journal IEEE Sensors. Sarma is MIT’s vice president for open learning and the Fred Fort Flowers and Daniel Fort Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
Sticker sense
Many off-the-shelf diapers incorporate wetness indicators in the form of strips, printed along the outside of a diaper, that change color when wet — a design that usually requires removing multiple layers of clothing to be able to see the actual diaper.
Companies looking into smart diaper technology are considering wetness sensors that are wireless or Bluetooth-enabled, with devices that attach to a diaper’s exterior, along with bulky batteries to power long-range connections to the internet. These sensors are designed to be reusable, requiring a caregiver to remove and clean the sensor before attaching it to each new diaper. Current sensors being explored for smart diapers, Sen estimates, retail for over $40.
RFID tags in contrast are low-cost and disposable, and can be printed in rolls of individual stickers, similar to barcode tags. MIT’s AutoID Laboratory, founded by Sarma, has been at the forefront of RFID tag development, with the goal of using them to connect our physical world with the internet.
A typical RFID tag has two elements: an antenna for backscattering radio frequency signals, and an RFID chip that stores the tag’s information, such as the specific product that the tag is affixed to. RFID tags don’t require batteries; they receive energy in the form of radio waves emitted by an RFID reader. When an RFID tag picks up this energy, its antenna activates the RFID chip, which tweaks the radio waves and sends a signal back to the reader, with its information encoded within the waves. This is how, for instance, products labeled with RFID tags can be identified and tracked.
Sarma’s group has been enabling RFID tags to work not just as wireless trackers, but also as sensors. Most recently, as part of MIT’s Industrial Liason Program, the team started up a collaboration with Softys, a diaper manufacturer based in South America, to see how RFID tags could be configured as low-cost, disposable wetness detectors in diapers. The researchers visited one of the company’s factories to get a sense of the machinery and assembly involved in diaper manufacturing, then came back to MIT to design a RFID sensor that might reasonably be integrated within the diaper manufacturing process.
Tag, you’re it
The design they came up with can be incorporated in the bottom layer of a typical diaper. The sensor itself resembles a bow tie, the middle of which consists of a typical RFID chip connecting the bow tie’s two triangles, each made from the hydrogel super absorbent polymer, or SAP.
Normally, SAP is an insulating material, meaning that it doesn’t conduct current. But when the hydrogel becomes wet, the researchers found that the material properties change and the hydrogel becomes conductive. The conductivity is very weak, but it’s enough to react to any radio signals in the environment, such as those emitted by an RFID reader. This interaction generates a small current that turns on the sensor’s chip, which then acts as a typical RFID tag, tweaking and sending the radio signal back to the reader with information — in this case, that the diaper is wet.
The researchers found that by adding a small amount of copper to the sensor, they could boost the sensor’s conductivity and therefore the range at which the tag can communicate to a reader, reaching more than 1 meter away.
To test the sensor’s performance, they placed a tag within the bottom layers of newborn-sized diapers and wrapped each diaper around a life-sized baby doll, which they filled with saltwater whose conductive properties were similar to human bodily fluids. They placed the dolls at various distances from an RFID reader, at various orientations, such as lying flat versus sitting upright. They found that the particular sensor they designed to fit into newborn-sized diapers was able to activate and communicate to a reader up to 1 meter away when the diaper was fully wet.
Sen envisions that an RFID reader connected to the internet could be placed in a baby’s room to detect wet diapers, at which point it could send a notification to a caregiver’s phone or computer that a change is needed. For geriatric patients who might also benefit from smart diapers, she says small RFID readers may even be attached to assistive devices, such as canes and wheelchairs to pick up a tag’s signals.
This research was supported in part by Softys under the MIT Industry Liason Program.
http://news.mit.edu/2020/smart-diaper-rfid-notify-caregiver-0214

Andrew Karpisz wrote in The Effects of Disposable Diapers on the Environment and Human Health:

The Big Problem With Disposable Diapers
In the United States, there are about four million babies born every year. During their first year of life, the average newborn uses about 2500 diapers. This means that from babies under one year old, Americans dispose of around a trillion diapers a year. If we include all children before potty-training age, the amount grows. Children in their second year of life need fewer diapers, around four to five a day. That’s an extra 1400-1800 diapers a year, per child.
Production of synthetic diapers began in the 1960s and gained popularity over the following decade. In 2017, Americans disposed of over four million tons of used diapers, 80% of which just sits in landfills. Diapers are made of synthetic materials that aren’t biodegradable.
Out of all “non-durable goods,” diapers were the second most generated waste by weight, surpassed only by discarded clothing and shoes. And we have over half a century’s worth of them taking up space.
Chemical compounds in diapers
Aside from the sheer volume of waste, disposable diapers contain many harmful substances.
• Tributyltin (TBT) – A biocide used to prevent the growth of bacteria. It’s poisonous to marine life as well as humans. It damages fertility, unborn children, and our organs. TBT can be fatal if inhaled and doesn’t degrade. TBT remains in our ecosystem and is entering our food chain.
• Dioxins – A group of persistent organic pollutants. The bleaching process used on diaper material creates dioxins as a by-product. They’re carcinogenic and linked long-term health problems. Dioxins are highly toxic, according to the EPA.
• Adhesives, synthetic dyes, and perfumes – They are manufactured with and contain the chemicals on this list. Adhesives are used to hold the entire diaper together. Synthetic dyes create the cute pictures found on diapers, as well as the colored straps and the convenient strip telling you whether the baby needs to be changed. Diapers use perfumes to hide odors.
• Sodium polyacrylate – Used as the absorbent stuffing. Menstrual pads containing this compound have been implicated in cases of toxic shock syndrome.
• Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) like toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene, and dipentene – They’re used to produce dyes, polymers, and adhesives. But the problem with these chemicals is that they are quickly released into the air when exposed to heat.
• Plastics/polymers – Mainly polypropylene and polyethylene, but also includes polyester, polyurethane, and polyolefin. They’re the primary materials used in product packaging, household products, and the production of plastic grocery bags, respectively. Most of a diaper is composed of these non-recyclable plastics.
• Phthalates – While they’re used to soften plastics, the diaper’s adhesives, dyes, and perfumes also contain these chemicals. People of any age can have adverse reactions to phthalates, but unborn babies and young children are potentially more susceptible.
• Petroleum/petrolatum – Used to keep diapers from leaking.
Most of us don’t want these substances in our environment. Yet we are encouraged to place these compounds directly against our children’s skin.
What about alternatives?
Fortunately, we have other options that are better for our children and the environment.
Biodegradable Disposable Diapers
A few companies have started production of completely biodegradable diapers. They use plant-based materials instead of polyacrylate stuffing, artificial dyes, toxic materials, and plastics.
There is a higher price attached to these diapers, due to higher manufacturing costs. But you also get the comfort of knowing that your child won’t be exposed to harsh chemicals. These diapers won’t sit in landfills for centuries. If you want the convenience of disposable diapers without the waste, these are perfect.
Reusable Cloth Diapers
If you can’t stomach the high cost of biodegradable disposables, there is still another solution — cloth diapers.
Reusable cloth diapers have come a long way since their creation. The classic image of a cotton sheet held on with safety pins is no longer the reality. They’ve updated cloth diapers with contours, velcro or snaps, leak protection, and some pretty stylish prints. Now, these diapers are made of breathable fabrics and don’t require soaking before washing (like they did previously).
Not only are they environmentally friendly, but cost about half as much as the seven thousand diapers a child uses before potty training. Are you having another child? The only cost is laundering if you chose not to do it at home. Reusables require scant investment instead of a constant drain on your wallet.
Let’s say that you don’t want to have to wash them at home. For the sake of convenience, there are plenty of companies that provide delivery and laundering services. There are green and eco-friendly cleaners as well, so your environmental impact from cloth diaper use has the potential to be negligible.
The cost of laundering services, combined with the purchase of cloth diapers, is almost equal to that of using disposable diapers. Cloth diapers save us significant energy, water, raw materials, and landfill space when compared to single-use diapers.
In The End…
Diapers are a necessity for your child. The negative impact on our environment is not. It’s possible to achieve the same protection at a lower cost and similar convenience for about the same as disposables…. https://www.unsustainablemagazine.com/2020/01/10/the-effects-of-disposable-diapers-on-the-environment-and-human-health/

Children are not the only users of disposable diapers. Research and Markets projects in Global Incontinence Products Market Outlook 2019-2025 – Disposable Adult Diapers Will Bring in Healthy Gains of $10.6+ Billion by 2025 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-incontinence-products-market-outlook-2019-2025—disposable-adult-diapers-will-bring-in-healthy-gains-of-10-6-billion-by-2025–300994508.html

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