New organic disposable sensor will let diaper say baby needs changing

New organic disposable sensor will let diaper say baby needs changing


FEB 10, 2014

image001Time to change: University of Tokyo professor Takao Someya holds a diaper containing the world’s first flexible wireless organic sensor system at his laboratory in Tokyo on Sunday. | AFP-JIJI

Researchers have unveiled a disposable organic sensor that can be embedded in a diaper and wirelessly let a carer know it needs changing.

The flexible integrated circuit printed on a single plastic film transmits information and receives its power wirelessly, and could potentially be manufactured for a few yen, the developers said.

The system, which uses organic materials that can be printed with ink-jet technology, was developed by a team led by professors Takayasu Sakurai and Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo.

In addition to use in infant diapers, the technology can be applied to adult diapers, a big-seller in rapidly aging Japan.

Regular diapers change color to indicate they are wet, but a care-giver still needs to take off the wearer’s clothes to see.

“If sensing is done electronically, you can tell simply by coming close to the wearer — without unclothing him or her,” Someya said.

The technology can also be placed directly on the skin like a plaster, in place of the often ring-shaped devices currently used in hospitals to monitor pulse and blood oxygen levels, he said.

Health care sensors often use silicon and other relatively rigid materials that can cause discomfort. The flexibility of a single sheet of plastic film reduces that discomfort and means it can be applied to a larger number of places, offering greater potential to monitor well-being.

The prototype is capable of monitoring wetness, pressure, temperature and other phenomena that cause a change in electrical resistance, said Someya, but the team would like to refine it to reduce power consumption before it goes into widespread use.

Currently, the data-reading device needs to be a few centimeters from the sensor, but Someya said the team is exploring whether they can boost the transmission distance.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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