This New Sensor Could Be All Wet

Researchers at the University of Tokyo are working on an organic sensor that may push the idea of the Internet of Things to a whole ‘nother level. They’re developing a very thin, flexible sensor that can be embedded in a diaper so that it can notify a care giver when baby needs a change, all without having to undress the kid to find out.

According to a report from CNET, “The Tokyo team, led by Someya and Takayasu Sakurai (both professors at the university), have created a disposable, organic sensor that can be embedded in a diaper. The sensor, which is printed on a film using inkjet technology, responds to conditions that cause a change in electrical resistance, such as pressure, temperature, and—most relevantly—wetness. When it senses that a diaper needs to be changed, it sends a signal to an external data-reading device.”

The complete story, including some pictures and diagrams, is here

The device is still in the experimental stage, and I’m certainly not the best predictor of what will be a technology success, so this idea might not be as silly as it sounds. The use with adult invalid patients could be the compelling sell. But I can’t help but wonder whether the “smart” baby diaper isn’t going after flies with a cannon. I seem to remember from my baby-tending days that the kid’s own built-in organic sensors and communication system never had any trouble letting you know when change was necessary—without any fancy electronics.  

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