A smart diaper that tells you when your baby is going to pee. Goodbye, nappy rash!

Safeena Wani July 26, 2017

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How cool would it be if diapers had a sense of premonition! They’d be able to tell parents that their bundle of joy is about to take a leak, enabling them to take off the little one’s diaper, let her wee and put the diaper back on. There’d be no need to check constantly to see if the baby has wet herself, or worry of rashes caused by damp diapers pressing against tender skin for hours.

A Kashmiri youth has developed a prototype of a diaper that actually predicts when a baby is going to pee. It looks like any other disposable diaper, but has tiny devices including sensors embedded to detect that the wearer’s bladder is filling. When it ascertains that the body is gearing up to pass urine, it triggers an alarm in the watch that comes along with it. Alerted by the alarm, the parent/nanny can attend to the baby.

It looks like any other disposable diaper, but has tiny devices including sensors embedded to detect that the wearer’s bladder is filling. When it ascertains that the body is gearing up to pass urine, it triggers an alarm in the watch that comes along with it  

This smart diaper is the brainchild of Jahangir Ahmad, a B Tech student at University of Kashmir. Tentatively named Baby Pee Sensor, the diaper comprises four layers: innermost fabric, absorbent material, a cover layer and an outer layer with the embedded devices.

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Jahangir Ahmad developed the e-diaper in the University of Kashmir’s I-Lab, with Rs 1.5 lakh he received from the Paediatric Rehabilitation Intelligent Systems Multidisciplinary (prism) lab

The outer layer is embedded with sensors — electromyography or EMG probes — that can detect the electrical signals the bladder sends to the brain when it gets filled. “The sensor records these electric signals. And once it reaches the threshold voltage, which means the urinary bladder is full, it sends a signal (to the alarm) that the child is going to pee,” Ahmad explained.

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The sensors send the information to the transmitter through an amplifier and a single-chip microcomputer — all embedded in the diaper. The transmitter then uses wireless technology to trigger the alarm in the watch.

Ahmad said the diaper can be washed after detaching its outer layer and reused after attaching it. You would need to buy a new diaper only if it gets wet more than thrice. He expects to price it at a reasonable Rs 400 for a set of a diaper and a watch.

Is the e-diaper safe?

The 23-year-old innovator informed that the battery in the diaper is made of cellulose, is biodegradable and gets charged automatically through ions. He said the embedded electronic devices are harmless. He plans to apply for a clearance from regulating agencies that he will need to launch this product. As of now, only a crude version of the diaper is available.

Jahangir Ahmad was inspired to make the diaper after a visit his friend’s place where he saw the latter’s paralytic father fighting deep embarrassment to tell his family in the front of a guest that he needed to answer nature’s call  

Ahmad was inspired to make the diaper after a visit his friend’s place where he saw the latter’s paralytic father fighting deep embarrassment to tell his family in the front of a guest that he needed to answer nature’s call. Touched by the man’s predicament, he thought of devising a technology that would help people like him communicate about the basic need to their caregivers without having to say a word.

Ahmad developed the diaper in the University of Kashmir’s I-Lab, with Rs 1.5 lakh he received from the Paediatric Rehabilitation Intelligent Systems Multidisciplinary (prism) lab. It has been tested on a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler and on an adult too, and found to be delivering on its promise. Ahmad has applied for a patent.

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The outer layer of the e-diaper is embedded with sensors — electromyography or EMG probes — that can detect the electrical signals the bladder sends to the brain when it gets filled

I-Lab’s head professor G M Bhat told FactorDaily that the innovation has been recognised by the prism lab and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Indian government. He said no such innovation is available in the market and it would have a good demand.

Some products similar to Baby Pee Sensor are available though. Amazon India lists a removable device that alerts the baby’s caregiver that the diaper is wet, but it’s out of stock. A blog called Change-Diapers discussed such a technology in a post three years ago. “Wireless signals and any amount of voltage (no matter how “low” or “safe”) beside my child’s genitals? No thanks!”

The e-diaper has been tested on a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler and on an adult too, and found to be delivering on its promise. Ahmad has applied for a patent  

Moushmi Sinha, a Bengaluru-based journalist who has a 13-month-old baby girl was excited when she heard about the e-diaper. She said on her baby’s first birthday party a month ago, she was so busy with attending to guests that she forgot to change her diaper. Only at the end of the day did she remember about the diaper, by which time it had gotten all soggy, and she realised her baby had been in discomfort all day.

She said the e-diaper would be a boon as it would alert her that her baby was going to pee. She added that disposable diapers are expensive, and the reusable, washable diaper may be more economical. She, however, wondered if it would be comfortable to wear and if the embedded sensors and devices were safe, but she said she would definitely consider using it on her baby.

Lead visual: Angela Anthony Pereira

Inside images: Safeena Wani

The ‘Tech Meets Bharat’ series brings to you stories on how technology is impacting and changing lives in hinterland India. Safeena Wani is a Srinagar-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.