Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are dangerous for infants and the elderly. While the onset of UTIs generally involves pain and other symptoms, young children are not able to describe how they’re feeling, while the elderly may suffer from neurodegenerative conditions that reduce sensation in the affected area. Moreover, it’s difficult to obtain a sample for testing from those that wear diapers. Now, engineers at Purdue University have developed a sensor-embedded diaper that can accurately point to the presence of a bacterial infection in the urinary tract.
The sensor, placed within a commercial diaper, detects nitrites, which are typically present in the urine of people with a UTI. The device consists of a paper-based sensor, batteries that work only when they contact urine, associated electronics, and a Bluetooth transmitter to relay its readings.
A smartphone or other paired-up device can receive data every time urine is detected in the diaper, and accurate measurements of nitrites are provided within about two minutes.
So far, synthetic urine samples have been used to evaluate the new technology, which demonstrated a sensitivity of 1.35 ms/(mg/L) and a detection limit of 4 mg/L for nitrite.
Here’s a short video from Purdue about the smart diaper:
Paper in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems: Diaper-Embedded Urinary Tract Infection Monitoring Sensor Module Powered by Urine-Activated Batteries