This Smart Diaper Uses RFID to Alert Parents When Babies Must Be Changed

If you’re a parent, you certainly know how important it is to change a wet diaper at the right time. If you’re not a parent, then don’t worry because it won’t be long until you’ll have to do it too.

But if you’re lucky enough, this system developed by MIT researchers could be more commonly used by the time you become a parent and determining if a diaper needs to be changed would only become a sensor’s problem.

More specifically, these researchers have created a new low-cost diaper that could issue an alert whenever dampness is detected. While the concept of smart diapers isn’t necessarily new, the MIT engineers say their idea surely is.

A concept detailed this week explains that instead of using expensive sensors, their low-cost smart diaper would rely on an RFID tag that doesn’t cost more than a few cents.

“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,” a closer look at the smart diaper reads.

Low-cost diaper

According to their estimates, the sensor costs less than 2 cents to manufacture, so the diaper itself would be rather affordable as well. Furthermore, as compared to the existing smart diapers where cleaning the sensor is required, this new concept relies on disposable sensors, making a diaper change a lot more convenient for parents, babies, and everyone else’s eyes and noses.

MIT says such an implementation can very well be expanded beyond the world of babies, as diapers for adults can be the next step for using RFID for the same purpose.

“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,” the research notes.

The idea certainly is worth our time, especially given it address babies’ first real problem after they’re born, so hopefully it wouldn’t take long before it reaches mass production.

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