Tag Archives: Smart Diaper

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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