The future of baby care is here as parents won't need to worry about frequently checking their baby's diapers anymore.
Being a parent is a blessing but having to check on smelly diapers often might feel like a curse. But future parents need not worry about that anymore because science and technology have managed to create something that is set to revolutionize infant care. Gone are the days when parents had to frequently check their kid’s diapers to see if they’d made a mess that needs to be cleaned up. The “smart diapers” are here to send a mobile alert to a caregiver’s phone when the baby poops or pees and the diaper needs to be changed.
A research team led by the Pennsylvania State University has come up with a simple pencil-on-paper design combined with humidity sensors to create this “smart diaper.” The research study was published in the Nano Letters journal and it describes the design behind the electrode sensor whose job is to simply sense the humidity level which rises in the presence of a baby’s excrement.
“The sensor is created using a pencil, drawn on paper treated with a sodium chloride solution. The hydration sensor is highly sensitive to changes in humidity and provides accurate readings over a wide range of relative humidity levels, from 5.6% to 90%,” the study elaborates.
New sensor enables 'smart diapers,' range of other health monitors @penn_state @NanoLetters https://t.co/oV1hjBgweF https://t.co/8JEivjHVzp— Phys.org (@physorg_com) February 2, 2023
The mechanism of the “smart diaper” is pretty simple in scientific terms. "The device takes advantage of the way paper naturally reacts to changes in humidity and uses the graphite in the pencil to interact with water molecules and the sodium chloride solution. As water molecules are absorbed by the paper, the solution becomes ionized and electrons begin to flow to the graphite in the pencil, setting off the sensor, which detects those changes in humidity in the environment and sends a signal to a smartphone, which displays and records the data," states an article published by PennState.
Taking a little peek or sniff to check the diaper's condition isn't required anymore as we have modern solutions to old problems nowadays.
Penn State researchers are proud for developing this low-cost technology. “We wanted to develop something low-cost that people would understand how to make and use — and you can’t get more accessible than pencil and paper,” said Li Yang, professor at the School of Artificial Intelligence at the Hebei University of Technology in China. “You don’t need to have some piece of multi-million-dollar equipment for fabrication. You just need to be able to draw within the lines of a pre-drawn electrode on a treated piece of paper. It can be done simply and quickly.”
“Our team has been focused on developing devices that can capture vital information for human health,” said Huanyu Cheng, the James L. Henderson, Jr. Memorial Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Penn State. “The goal is an early prediction for disease conditions and health situations, to spot problems before it is too late.”
As we look further into the research, we will realize that it’s hardly unnecessary as this technology might save parents from wasting precious diapers by not having to change ones that are barely wet. On top of that, it can also help parents and caregivers understand more about a child’s overall health and wellness.
Since the big brains are solving a problem even before it actually becomes a problem, we can expect to see these “smart diapers” being sold at supermarkets anytime soon. But until the futuristic diaper arrives, we have to rely on the age-old smell-and-peek test before changing a diaper.