Tech companies always hope to knock out the competition with their latest wearable. But Alphabet’s life sciences division, Verily, is probably expecting a blowout with this one.
The company, formerly known as Google Life Sciences, has a patent-pending plan for a wirelessly connected “smart diaper” that not only alerts a healthcare provider when there’s a new “event” but also analyzes and identifies the new download. is it number one or number two? The connected, absorbing gadget will sound an alarm via a connected device and possibly an app, which can catalog and track events.
Verily, is not the first to try to investigate the potential of derriere devices for babies. Many companies have come up with simple to high-tech moisture sensors before — from color-changing strips to wireless alarms. But, Verily argues in the patent application, the market lacks a convenient, affordable, all-in-one design that can distinguish between a tiny trickle and a code brown. While both require attention and change, a purulent or explosive diaper bomb often requires more urgency, especially if a baby is dealing with diaper rash.
All in all, when it comes to smart diapers, “there is a lot of room for significant advances in technology to reduce costs and improve convenience and functionality, making them a more affordable and reliable option,” the company writes. in his patent application. It filed the application in October 2016, but it was recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
To squeeze out a winning design that would wash out the competition, Verily pushed for an ultra high-tech diaper. The company envisions that the diaper has conductive and sensory elements embedded in the absorbent parts of the diaper, possibly in an array. These elements may include conductive fibers such as carbon fibers and/or microelectrodes made of materials such as gold, copper, platinum and conductive polymers. The diaper could use these elements to measure the conductivity and impedance between different parts of the diaper that are in the potential blast zone. Changes in conductivity and impedance would indicate that an illuminating event had occurred, and exact measurements of both could tell whether it is stool or urine. However, how the diaper can cope with particularly soggy twos is unclear.
The integrated diaper sensors can be linked to a reusable, attachable electronic module that hooks onto the front of the diaper. This may include a power source, a control circuit, and a transmitter that relays the bottom signal to a connected device via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or another communication protocol. Once sent, the doody call can be picked up by an app on a device like a smartphone or smartwatch, which can alert a caregiver and log each time the baby drops a log.
Verily also considered to include moisture and temperature sensors, as well as an accelerometer to better assess diaper status. The temperature readings could initiate diaper perception, basically by determining body heat that a diaper has been put on (or taken off) on a baby. Moisture sensors can periodically ping a clean signal, then initially detect an event and activate the conductive elements to assess exactly what the diaper is packing. And the accelerometer can help detect the position of the diaper on a baby, essentially revealing whether he’s riding low through a heavy load.
He really hopes the design will ease a burden on caregivers, who have the “eternal task” of checking diapers for pee or poo. While the company has focused on babies for the majority of its patent applications, it notes that such a wearable could be used for the elderly, the sick, the disabled, or even animals. For now, though, it’s just a patent-pending idea. In an email to Ars, Verily cautioned that “future offerings should not be inferred from our patent applications – Verily regularly files patent applications on various ideas and inventions, which may or may not reach maturity.” [to] products or services.”
Whether and when Verily will bring its smart diaper to market is unclear — and so is the cost.
This post has been updated with a comment from Verily.
Images of U.S. Patent Application 15/292,389