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Are Babies The New Frontier For Wearable Tech?

Pixie Scientific has developed a diaper that can detect possible infections, and transmit the information to a smartphone.

John Pugh, BI
John Pugh, BI on July 21, 2013. @johnpugh

The current discussion around wearable tech and the quantified self is dominated by Google Glass, smart watches, and fitness trackers, but there is a new piece of wearable tech that could easily be used by millions. However, the target consumer this time around is not adults, or even dogs, but rather babies. Imagine if a simple, inexpensive device could instantly alert parents to any potential infections or conditions their child may have, taking away much of the worry and guesswork around raising a child.

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A New York start-up called Pixie Scientific has developed a diaper that the company says can detect possible urinary tract infections, kidney dysfunction and dehydration, and the accompanying smartphone app can transmit the information directly to a physician. This new and simple piece of tech may end up being one of the more practical uses of wearable tech currently on the market.

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The smart diaper has a small patch on the front, containing chemical agents that have different reactions depending on which proteins are present in the child’s urine. These reactions provide valuable information about a baby’s health. Should the levels be abnormal, the color on the patches will change. At the end of each diaper use, a parent uses his or her smartphone to take a picture of the QR code-like patch. The accompanying app then analyzes the patches to determine whether the baby has a UTI, if the kidneys are healthy or whether s/he is dehydrated. It can even detect Type 1 diabetes. The app will recommend whether the child needs to be taken in to see a physician.

Founder Yaroslav Faybishenko explained to the New York Times how Smart Diapers came about:

I was driving with my wife and daughter one day, when my wife asked if the baby had wet herself. I realized she was sitting in data.

Smart Diapers are still in the testing stage, but the company has started an Indiegogo campaign to fund their first study and help complete the Food and Drug Administration registration process. Should the requisite funding be achieved, Faybishenko says the diapers will be tested at Benioff Children’s Hospital at the University of California, San Francisco. Solutions such as the Smart Diaper are an excellent example of how wearable tech can be marketed to a mainstream audience through an intuitive design that requires little effort on the part of users to provide valuable health data. This seamless integration of monitoring technology into people’s lives can have a profound impact on their overall well-being and those they care about.

Pixie Scientific

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