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Article Released Wed-12th-August-2015 10:30 GMT
Contact: A*STAR Research Institution: The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
 Intelligent sensor informs you to change a diaper via SMS

Researchers in Singapore have invented an “intelligent continence management system” comprising a thin disposable sensor strip which has the potential to improve the care of elderly and bedridden patients.

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The IBN researchers who developed the diaper wetness monitoring system. From left: Dr Min Hu, Prof Jackie Y. Ying, Dr Rensheng Deng and Dr Guolin Xu. Copyright: A*STAR
Singapore, August 12, 2015 – Diapers could soon come with a sensor that alerts caregivers by SMS when the diapers are soiled. Researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR have invented an “intelligent continence management system” comprising a thin disposable sensor strip, a compact wireless transmitter, a receiver and software, which has the potential to improve the care of elderly and bedridden patients.

“Lying in soiled diapers for prolonged periods is not only uncomfortable and unhygienic, but may also cause skin rashes and infection for the wearer. While increasing the frequency of diaper checks and changes may help to reduce this problem, it would also add to the workload of caregivers. Clearly, there is a need for an alternative solution,” said IBN Executive Director, Professor Jackie Y. Ying, who led the research effort.

Timely replacement of soiled diapers is a challenge for caregivers of patients who are unable to communicate this need, such as those who suffer from aphasia, the loss of speech after a stroke or brain injury.

IBN’s sensor can be easily integrated into the adult diapers currently available in the market to facilitate timely diaper change. It comes in the form of a thin, lightweight strip of metal, plastic and paper. This inexpensive strip will be embedded in the diaper and can be disposed easily after use. The wireless transmitter, which is connected to the sensor, is easily attached and removed for reuse.

IBN’s system tracks the wetness level in the diaper via the sensor. Once the diaper wetness reaches a predetermined level, the sensor will transmit a signal wirelessly to the caregivers using their preferred interface such as SMS. This will prompt the caregiver to change the patient’s diaper when needed.

IBN conducted a clinical validation of the prototype on 20 elderly residents at
St Joseph's Home in November-December 2013. The validation was supported by the Agency for Integrated Care, and Dr Philip Yap, a specialist in geriatric medicine from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, who is also IBN's Adjunct Clinician Scientist.

The validation results show that IBN’s diaper wetness monitoring system was robust, reliable, easy to use, and highly accurate in detecting soiled diapers. Importantly, patients wearing the sensor-embedded diapers spent approximately 90% less time in wet diapers compared to those wearing normal diapers. Each sensor-embedded diaper was changed within minutes after the caregiver received the alert.

“Physically frail and cognitively impaired patients have for a long time suffered the ignominy of lying for prolonged periods in soiled diapers; this is incompatible with the high quality care we want to give to our patients. The smart diaper sensor is a significant advancement for we can now truly provide care that upholds the dignity of our patients and reduces the risk of complications such as skin breakdown and infections,” shared Dr Philip Yap.

This patented technology has been licensed to IBN’s eighth spin-off company Wet Alert Pte Ltd in March this year for commercialization. The technology also won the Bronze Prize at the Long-Term Care Quality Festival Poster Competition in 2014 organized by the Ministry of Health and the Agency for Integrated Care.

“Our diaper sensor would contribute toward better management of elderly and bedridden patients in nursing homes, hospitals and at home. We are now working with Wet Alert to develop the prototype into a commercial product by further improving its user-friendliness and reducing the production cost,” added Professor Ying.

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About the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

Established in 2003, the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) is the world’s first bioengineering and nanotechnology research institute. IBN’s mission is to conduct multidisciplinary research across science, engineering, and medicine for breakthroughs to improve healthcare and quality of life.

IBN’s research activities are focused in the following areas:

· Nanomedicine, where functionalized polymers, hydrogels and biologics are developed as therapeutics and carriers for the controlled release and targeted delivery of therapeutics to diseased cells and organs.

· Synthetic Biosystems, where biomimetic materials, innovative cell culture, 3D printing technologies, microfluidic systems and bioimaging are combined to develop novel approaches for regenerative medicine, in vitro compound screening, and disease modeling.

· Biodevices and Diagnostics, which involve nanotechnology and microfabricated platforms for high-throughput biomarker and drug screening, automated biologics synthesis, and rapid disease diagnosis.

· Green Chemistry and Energy, which encompass the green synthesis of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, catalytic conversion of biomass, utilization of carbon dioxide, and new nanocomposite materials for energy applications.

Scientific Impact

· More than 1,000 papers published in leading scientific journals
· Over 1,100 seminars and presentations at international conferences, including over 700 invited, keynote and plenary lectures
· Organized premier scientific meetings such as the International Conference on Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Nano Today Conference, and the IBN International Symposium
Technological and Commercialization Impact

· 341 active patents and patent applications
· 84 licensed patents and patent applications
· 8 spin-off companies
· 153 active research collaborations with industrial, clinical and academic partners
Nurturing Future Research Talents

· Trained 116 PhD students
· More than 80,400 students and teachers from 290 local and overseas schools/universities have participated in IBN’s Youth Research Program
· Over 2,200 students and teachers have completed research attachments at IBN
For more information on IBN, please visit

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that spearheads economic oriented research to advance scientific discovery and develop innovative technology. Through open innovation, we collaborate with our partners in both the public and private sectors to benefit society.

As a Science and Technology Organisation, A*STAR bridges the gap between academia and industry. Our research creates economic growth and jobs for Singapore, and enhances lives by contributing to societal benefits such as improving outcomes in healthcare, urban living, and sustainability.

We play a key role in nurturing and developing a diversity of talent and leaders in our Agency and Research Institutes, the wider research community and industry. A*STAR oversees 18 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities primarily located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis.

For more information on A*STAR, please visit

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IBN’s diaper wetness monitoring system can alert caregivers by SMS when the patient’s diaper needs to be changed. Copyright: A*STAR

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