“Smart” disposable diapers being developed by the state-funded Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) are likely to hit the market this year, the institute said recently.
The electronic diapers should be ready for sale by the end of this year once non-woven fabrics manufacturer KNH Enterprise Co (康那香) makes final adjustments to its sensor computing system, said Chiou Yii-tay (邱以泰), a special assistant at the institute’s Cloud Service Application Center.
KNH is one of three companies, along with medical device provider Sinopulsar Technology Inc (華星科技) and inorganic material supplier Hua Mao Nano-Tech Co (華楙生技), that are working on the new product with the institute, Chiou said.
Designed to enhance the quality of long-term healthcare, the diapers will let nurses or caretakers know when they need to be changed and are especially suitable for older chronic disease patients, the institute said.
A sensor module in the diaper senses when it has been soiled and sends a wireless transmission signal to a designated phone, informing the phone’s user that a change is needed, said the institute, which unveiled the new product in December last year.
The diapers themselves are also more hygienic and “wearable” than conventional products because of the anti-bacterial and far-infrared non-wovens used to make them, the institute said.
The new diapers and similarly functioning “smart mattresses” have been tested by several of the nation’s healthcare institutes on chronic disease patients, and adjustments are being made based on the response.
The institute said that in the future the diapers can be integrated with other medical care equipment through telecoms, security and cable television systems for cloud data analysis, enabling the development of new health management and medical care services.
Sales of medical devices and equipment reached nearly NT$100 billion (US$3.37 billion) in 2011 and were estimated to increase by 7 percent last year, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
With the number of elderly and chronic disease patients on the rise, the global medical market is believed to have surpassed US$280 billion last year, up from US$270 billion in 2011, the ministry said.