• Researchers at MIT Do It Again! Another Breakthrough in Monitoring

    Author(s): Chuck Biddle, PhD, CRNA

    So, we’ve come to know that I-o-T (the Internet of all Things) has come to mean that there are more and more “connections” that we embrace that lead to the Internet. Well, adding yet more connectivity, investigators have pioneered their way into soiled diapers. Yes, now there is a system that allows busy, distracted, fatigued or otherwise forgetful parents to know that their child has a wet diaper on.

    Those of you who diaper and who go shopping for diapers know that most brands have a color strip indicator on them denoting the degree of saturation or soiling. But that requires the parent to go looking. But what if…. and this is the question the MIT researchers posited….the one responsible for diaper duties (ie, the parent, babysitter or delegated one) could be alerted from afar? Much in the same way that an oven timer or alarm clock might trigger our attention?

    Those advanced thinkers at MIT propose to revolutionize the way diapers are monitored by inserting a cheap, and apparently effective, sensor into the child’s excretory capture garment we’ve come to know as the diaper. Costing only about 2 cents per diaper, the system is free of batteries and runs on an ingenious system of chemistry, based on the hydrogel system it runs on. It is, quite simply an alarm system for diapers!

    The absorbent hydrogel whose electrical conductivity is altered as it gets wet, allows a passive radio frequency indentification (RFID) tag to transmit a wireless signal to a dedicated monitor within a 1-meter radius. So, while not ‘ultra remote,’ nonetheless, the little one can be monitored without the need to pick up, unclothe, and thus physically perturb them. Basically the hydrogel serves as an antenna for moisture detection.

    No babies were placed at risk with the initial trials, as baby dolls, swaddled in diapers, received aliquots of saltwater infusion. Of course, in all seriousness, the technology has other translational possibilities as not only babies wear diapers. Consider adults with issues of incontinence and for the sole healthcare provider who is charged with monitoring several patients simultaneously.

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