“Smart Diapers” perform high-tech urinalysis

Mon, 07/15/2013 - 6:15pm
Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor

Parents will try anything to ensure their baby’s health – even if that means scanning their infant’s backside with their smartphone. At least that’s the idea behind Pixie Scientific’s “Smart Diaper” concept, which transmits health data via QR codes.

Yes, that’s right. The same technology that pesters shoppers, subway patrons, and journalists can now check for urinary tract infections.

The concept is interesting: When your child leaves a fresh “deposit”, test strips around the QR code analyze the waste for various ailments. Once per day, you scan the front of their diaper, and algorithms examine the data. You then receive a detailed report on your smartphone via the cloud. The Smart Diaper checks for UTIs, prolonged dehydration, and developing kidney problems.

You can even transmit the data to a doctor, who can make a remote diagnosis.

The video below – which uses a creepy “Look Who’s Talking” point of view – explains the general idea.

It also contains the immortal quote: "she wasn't just sitting in a diaper full of urine ... but in a diaper full of data."

According to the company’s site, “By taking useful data from a wet Smart Diaper, we make use of something that would normally be thrown directly into the trash.  Smart Diapers alert you to certain conditions that require immediate attention and also track your child's health for months or years, automatically looking for emerging trends.”

The question on everyone's mind – how much will these high-tech pee-detectors cost? Parents already spend a fortune on diapers.

The consumer version hasn’t hit the market, but a $25 donation on Indiegogo will secure you five Smart Diapers. The savings rise commensurate with your “generosity” level. As of press time, they raised just over $10K of their $225,000 goal.

Pixie Scientific assures interested parties that Smart Diapers are safe – they contain reagents that interact with leukocytes (cells made by the immune system in response to foreign bodies) and nitrites (stuff made by bacteria that causes urinary tract infections), and the reagents and dyes that form as a result of your child’s “present” won’t come into contact with their skin.

While diapers aren’t normally subject to FDA scrutiny, Smart Diapers fall under federal jurisdiction because they help screen for disease. The company is working with the FDA’s Office of In-Vitro Diagnostics to secure 510(k) approval.

“The ancient Romans tasted lethargic children's urine for diabetes mellitus,” says the company. “Today, parents make sure that urine in their children's diaper is clear.  Tomorrow, we envision, data will help parents and pediatricians watch over children's health.”


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