Innovations That Matter

The chip sends a signal to the reader, which then produces an alert | Photo source MIT News

Smart nappy alerts caregivers when wet

Computing & Tech

The RFID sensor helps healthcare professionals and parents minimise the amount of time a wet nappy is in contact with sensitive skin

Spotted: Designed by a team in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Industry Liason Program, the smart nappy uses radio frequency identification (RFID), wireless wetness detection technology. Traditionally used as trackers, RFID tags become sensors when paired with a super absorbent polymer (SAP) hydrogel. When the hydrogel becomes wet, it becomes conductive enough to turn on an RFID chip.

The chip sends a signal to the reader, which then produces an alert. For healthcare professionals working on a busy ward, such alerts could drastically improve care quality for both elderly and infant patients, for minimising the amount of time that wetness is in contact with skin helps reduce the risk of rashes and infections.


The MIT team believes that the cost of production of the technology will be less than two cents per RFID tag. The cost is kept low by producing rolls of tags in sticker form, which are then easy to insert into the manufacturing process for placement in the bottom layer of a nappy. The RFID readers can be placed in a variety of locations, including a baby’s crib and mobility support devices such as walkers, canes and wheelchairs.

Other examples Springwise has spotted of innovations supporting new parents and babies include a breast pump small enough to fit inside a nursing bra and a soft, recyclable, biodegradable, reusable nappy made from seaweed.

Intergenerational social care is on the rise, with many community projects seeking ways to better integrate a wider spectrum of ages. As social and cultural expectations of inclusivity continue to grow, myriad opportunities arise in technological invention and application and through cross-industry collaboration. The creative challenge lies in producing a product or process that works for a broad range of ages in a way that makes the user experience enjoyable. 

Explore More: Health & Wellbeing Innovations




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