Technology is meant to solve the everyday problems we encounter and make our lives easier. The new research from MIT is aiming to do just that as it came out with a “smart” diaper running on the radio frequency identification (RFID) technology– the same one which powers the FASTag on your car’s windshield.
For infants, a wet diaper can cause painful rashes, and that is why the low-cost moisture sensor embedded in diapers makes sure to notify you when the baby of the house needs a new diaper.
“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,” MIT said in a press release.
The RFID tag 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 one meter away.
MIT researchers say the design is the first demonstration of the hydrogel as a functional antenna element to sense moisture in diapers using RFID. They estimate that the sensor costs less than 2 cents to manufacture, which makes it a low-cost and disposable alternative to other smart diaper technology.
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Pankhuri Sen, a research assistant in MIT’s AutoID Laboratory, says that the sensor could also be integrated into adult diapers to help 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 ageing 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.”
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