Smart nappies from smart people

With a pandemic sweeping the globe, stock markets faltering, and enforced social distancing now in full effect in many countries, undoubtedly the leading thought in many people’s minds must be: ‘I sure wish there was a way for me to know whether my baby has wet its nappy without me having to check’.

As I’m sure many will be relieved the know, the keen minds over at MIT have come to the rescue in this time of crisis with a solution: smart nappies.

MIT’s AUTO-ID Lab, creators of the same RFID technology used to tag library books and runners in long-distance races, are now using their technology for an entirely new purpose.

The idea looks something like this: carers or parents have access to a reader which sends radio waves to a chip located in said nappy. The chip then modifies these waves, depending on whether the nappy has been soiled or not, and sends them back to the reader to notify the recipient.

Brilliantly, the absorbent polymer material used in most nappies actually acts as a conductor when wet, becoming a pseudo antenna for the RFID chip and allowing its signal to transmit further.

All jokes aside, the uses for such technology in the care industry can’t be understated. Nurses caring for many babies at the same time will have a more obvious and immediate cue for when to change a nappy, making for a more efficient and hygienic workplace. With adult care specifically, the chips allow for a more discrete way of notifying carers of a soiling. The method promises to alleviate much of the understandable awkwardness and embarrassment surrounding the procedure. 

As for new parents, why bother even being near your baby anymore? In our shiny new technology-enabled world, you can just listen to and watch your little person through a monitor – at a safe distance – while waiting anxiously for the *beep* of their nappy alarm to sound.

Amazingly, this is our second nappy-focused blog, so why not check out our previous entry on nappies made from seaweed.

Finally, if, like many, you are concerned about funding for your business in the coming weeks and months, take a look at our online information concerning the government’s CBILS initiative.

Researchers at MIT have invented a low-cost moisture sensor for disposable nappies that uses radio frequencies to alert caregivers when babies need changing.

By Rebecca Garland on 28/03/2020