Wearable Tech For A Practical Problem: Spanish Startup Builds Alert System For Diaper Changing

The current crop of sensor-driven wearables are mostly aimed at quantified selfers who want to geek out over activity or fitness data. Not (generally) because they have a pressing need to, more because they like playing with data. But of course wearable sensors have bags of potential to be very practical. And here’s one utilitarian use of wearable sensor tech that’s aiming to fix a real-world problem.

Barcelona-based startup SiempreSecos (aka AlwaysDry in English) has created a range of silicone urine sensors for use in babies’ nappies, or for older people suffering incontinence disorders. The basic problem is that it’s inconvenient and/or invasive to have to keep checking whether a diaper needs changing.

The reusable silicone moisture sensor, which sits against the skin inside the diaper, is paired with a wearable bracelet or other type of warning device/system such as an alarm clock to alert the carer that a diaper needs changing, or that a child is about to wet the bed.

How does the tech work? “We are using radio frequency (868 MHz) with our own communication protocol which allows bidirectional operation with very low energy,” says the startup. “We use a non-replaceable battery in the sensor that lasts a year and a li-pol battery rechargeable through microUSB on the bracelet. The alarm-clock  plugs into a socket.”

Care homes are one big target market for SiempreSecos, with the system providing professional caregivers with a more discreet way of ascertaining when a dementia patient, for instance, who is also incontinent needs their adult diaper changing. This version of the system sends alerts to a PC allowing for multiple patients to be monitored from one terminal.

The startup has also devised versions for parents wanting to use the device to monitor when a baby needs changing, or for bed wetting children, or for a carer of an elderly relative — that version uses a wearable bracelet that includes a moisture level indicator and vibrates when the diaper requires changing.

Prices start at €35 for a basic model designed to be worn by kids at risk of bed wetting, rising to €520 for 10 of SiempreSecos’ Ignis Professional models, designed for use in care homes.

The startup has taken to crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise funds to get its wearables to market, having invested some €40,000 developing their idea over the past year, as well as raising a €25,000 loan. They’re looking for another €20,000 in crowdfunding for manufacturing and distribution, although it’s a flexible funding campaign so they’ll get any funding they’re able to raise, even if they don’t hit the target.