COMING SOON TO YOUR CELLPHONE: “WET DIAPER ALERT”
Parents are used to receiving a variety of child- related notifications and texts on their cellphones, from reminders about dental appointments to alerts about low balances in school lunch accounts. In a few years, they may see another notification: “Change your baby’s diaper!”
A group of Indian-American researchers at MIT are part of a team that has developed a “smart” diaper that contains a moisture-sensing, passive radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. The RFID tag is embedded below a layer of highly absorbent polymer, and when this substance is wet, it becomes slightly conductive, causing the RFID tag to send a radio signal to an RFID reader up to one meter away. The reader can then send a notification to a caregiver’s cellphone.
Pankhuri Sen, a research assistant in MIT’s AutoID Laboratory, Sai Nithin R. Kantareddy, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and their colleagues at MIT, including Rahul Bhattacharryya and Sanjay Sarma, along with Joshua Siegel at Michigan State University, published their research recently in the journal IEEE Sensors.
The RFID sensors may be particularly useful in hospital neonatal units, where nurses often take care of several babies at a time. The technology can also be used in adult diapers, so residents of nursing homes and other facilities do not have to endure wet diapers for long.
“Diapers are used not just for babies, but for aging populations, or patients who are bedridden,” Sen says.
Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
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