- POSTED: 10 Feb 2014 13:33
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A disposable organic sensor that can be embedded in a diaper and wirelessly let a carer know it needs changing was unveiled by Japanese researchers on Monday.
TOKYO: A disposable organic sensor that can be embedded in a diaper and send a wireless alert that a change is needed, was unveiled by Japanese researchers on Monday.
The flexible integrated circuit printed on a single plastic film that transmits information and receives its power wirelessly, could potentially be manufactured for a few yen, the developers told AFP.
The system, which uses organic materials that can be printed with inkjet technology, was developed by a team led by professors Takayasu Sakurai and Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo.
In addition to use in infants' diapers, the technology can be applied to adult nappies, which are a big-seller in rapidly aging Japan.
Regular diapers change colour to indicate they are wet, but a care-giver still needs to take off the wearer's clothes to check.
"If sensing is done electronically, you can tell simply by coming close to the wearer -- without unclothing him or her," Someya said.
The technology could also be put directly on the skin like a plaster, in place of often ring-shaped devices currently used in hospitals to monitor pulse and blood oxygen levels, he said.
Healthcare sensors often use silicon and other relatively rigid materials that can cause their users discomfort.
The flexibility of a single sheet of plastic film that reduces discomfort for wearers, means it can be applied to a larger number of places -- offering greater potential for doctors or carers to monitor well-being.
The prototype system that has been developed is capable of monitoring wetness, pressure, temperature and other phenomena that cause a change in electrical resistance, said Someya, but the team would like to refine it to reduce its power consumption before it goes into widespread use.
Currently, the data-reading device needs to be a few centimetres (inches) from the sensor, but Someya said the team was exploring its practicality and whether they can boost the distance.
Researchers are to unveil their work at an academic gathering now underway in San Francisco.