“Smart” Undies

In class on Tuesday, March 18, we spoke about the difference between front office and back office in terms of the potential for ICTs in education. On Thursday we spoke of ICTs for health.  This article is about technologies that keep you away from the office altogether—the doctor’s that is.  Most of these technologies are mHealth technologies, defined by Meredith on her blog here.  There are eight initiatives: “smart” pill bottles, health tracking briefs, ThriveOn for customized mental health help, wearable fall protection underwear, baby monitor clipped to clothes, smart footwear, smartphone thermometer, and Scandu Scout to analyze vitals on your smartphone.  These are all new concepts that were on display at a recent South by Southwest conference.  I am going to analyze the two types of technological underwear.  Pixie Scientific is the company that created the health tracking briefs, smart diapers that contain an indicator panel that tracks UTIs and monitors hydration to prevent disease.  These diapers sound like a great idea for public health, more so than the ActiveProtective underwear with 3-D motion sensors to detect falls.


However, if Pixie Scientific and ActiveProtective could combine the two?  How amazing!  They would be preventing UTIs by tracking hydration, injury with micro-airbags in the underwear, and a call for help.  The cons to these undergarments would be cost—Pixie Scientifics briefs are disposable and the infant version has been around for a while.  ActiveProtective must be brand new, because there is not any information online yet, but I can’t imagine micro airbags and whatever “call for help” technology is, is cheap.  Pixie Scientific seems to still be in its research stage.  I found a funding project for the program on indiegogo.  The company claims they will use the $21,491 raised to “fund manufacturing, a data-gathering study at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, and another study meant to collect data for FDA registration”.  Mainly these diapers will screen for: urinary tract infections, prolonged dehydration, and developing kidney problems.  According to UrologyHealth, approximately 40 percent of women and 12 percent of men will experience at least one UTI in their lifetimes.  I’m a big fan of these diapers because I’m a public health major, and if they can reach their stretch goals: to search for endemic diseases and screen for early signs of type 1diabetes, that would be a huge deal in terms of promoting higher quality of life through disease prevention.

4 responses to ““Smart” Undies

  • abernst2

    This is a very interesting concept. I hadn’t really heard too much about any type of SmartUndies. The goals of early detection and and tracking UTIs and other diseases could be very helpful, so many people aren;t even aware that they could have something wrong. However, what about next steps? once these infection are detected, how are they treated? and who treats them? And, what about preliminary knowledge? I feel like people need t be aware of this infections and disease to even express interest in SmartUndies, so maybe there should be some sort of education component as well.

  • kbruce2016

    What a cool article! Products like these show that modern technology can make anything innovative and multipurpose, even underwear. The article you hyperlinked showed a lot of these examples. However, the article doesn’t mention anything about development and I think it is important to realize that most people do not yet have access to these innovations. It would be nice if the article included a note comparing the cost-effectiveness of the different technologies mentioned. While some could probably save money and resources, others require resources too advanced or expensive to be useful tools in the developing world.

  • areed2014

    This use of technology is very interesting and innovative. I am always impressed with mHealth technologies. That being said, and this could be the skeptic in me, but I wonder what the long-term implications are to such health practices. For example, does using an “e-diaper” reduce the knowledge that parents have for their child’s body and health? Or does having such information increase the amount of knowledge available to them? Point being, I wonder what the transformation of knowledge, specifically with regard to our body, will be with faster growing dependency on technologies.

  • rgoode2

    This is really cool. I’ve never thought about this before. I was thinking about addressing some of the issues that the other comments brought up. Improving the product will obviously take a lot of time and money, and they’ve made a great start. I was thinking about that new thing they do at the airport- where they swipe your hand with a weird cloth pad on a stick to test for “dangerous” chemical traces. Maybe eventually the diapers will be developed in a similar, simple way, making them more reasonable/affordable for developing countries. I’m thinking mostly of people who use cloth diapers. Ideally there would be some sort of soak that you could rise the diapers in after cleaning them, which would react with a color when it encountered a specific chemical or lack thereof in urine. This would only work as a singular marker I guess (at least at first), you’d have to have one soak to test for say, blood in the urine, and another that shows dehydration or something. So then they would have to disperse the soaks according to where they are needed most. That would also significantly reduce waste, but who knows what sort of implications creating and using a “soak” like that would have, chances are it probably wouldn’t be great for sensitive baby skin…

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