Disappearing Diaper

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Engineering students at the University of Kashmir teamed up and within three years created a prototype of a one-time diaper that signals caretaker every time the individuals wishes to urinate, reports Umar Mukhtar

Jehangir Arshad, an engineering student at the Kashmir University visited his friends in 2013, to inquire about his ailing father. He found his friend uncomfortable and restless. Reason: His bedridden father had frequent urge to urinate but was unable to seek the assistance of his son in presence of relatives and friends who are around.

The phenomenon disturbed Arshad a lot. This led him to think about the possibility of a device that could help attendants understand that the patient wishes to urinate. Back home, he began to read about the human metabolism and did a sort of research on such technologies.

After an extensive study on the idea he had, he discussed it with his teacher, Rouf Ahmad. Rouf is working as an assistant professor in the department of electronics at Kashmir University.

“Making a device that will foretell us about when a person has to urinate, is basically a novel idea and without any hesitation, I asked him to go ahead,” Rouf Ahmad said. “I assured my full support for the project.”

Finally, after detailed discussions, Arshad and two other students, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat and Mansoor Ahmad, both B Tech students in electronics and communication department decided to work on the project. “The task demanded focus, hard work and determination,” said Arshad.

It took its own time. After years of dedication and hard work, they came up with a prototype of a device in 2016. It foretells that a person has to urinate. “Now mothers don’t need to worry about their children, my device is going to spare a lot of their time,” Arshad said. “Families spend a huge amount on the diapers for their children, this device will definitely be helpful in such cases.”

This device is a belt-like gadget that needs to be worn in the lumbar region of a child or adult. The device has another watch like a gadget which will be on the wrist of the caretaker. “We have tested the prototype on an adult and on a two-and-a-half-year-old child too, we got the satisfactory results,” said Arshad.

Rouf says that there is no rocket science involved in its mechanism. They have developed it on a very simple pattern. “It is a sensor-based device that sends a wireless signal to the watch-like device which is in possession of caretaker triggering alarm,” said Rouf.

The device comprises four layers, innermost fabric, absorbent material, a cover layer and an outer layer with the embedded devices. The outer layer is embedded with sensors that can detect the electrical signals the bladder sends to the brain when it gets filled. “The sensor records these electric signals. And once it reaches the threshold, which means the urinary bladder is full, it sends a signal that the person is going to urinate,” Rouf explained.

The device was developed with the financial assistance they received from the Paediatric Rehabilitation Intelligent Systems Multidisciplinary (PRISM) lab. “We also presented the idea before Directorate of Scientific Innovation and Research (DSIR). After finding our idea interesting, DSIR gave us Rs 1.5 lakh as help,” said Arshad.

On completion of the prototype, all the four were happy and relaxed. But they were desperate how soon will their dream product get into the market. Finally, in 2017, a Japanese company, Unicharm PVT Ltd, which is famous for the ‘Mammy Poko Pants Diapers’ approached them and take a test of the prototype. We are in negotiations with them that whether they will pay us royalty or they will buy the patient from us,” said Arshad.  By early 2018, they hope to clinch the deal.

This product is mainly going to replace the diaper because this will be a one-time investment and the cost of it will not be more than Rs 500.

Talking about the safety of the product, it has been designed in such a way that if a child or an ailing person by chance urinates inside the device, there is no apprehension of any harm.  “If anytime by chance kids urinate in the diaper, we can remove it, wash it, wipe it and use it again. There is no need to buy a new one,” insists Arshad. “Its battery needs to be charged once in three months.”

Arshad says that apart from being used in one way the device has also other medical benefits. It can be used to diagnose ailment related to the bladder.

It can detect the failure of Urethral Sphincters whose function is to control the outlet of urine in the urinary bladder through the urethra and Detrusor Urine Muscle whose function is to allow the bladder to store urine. “If there is any abnormality in them we can detect it through this device,” claims Arshad.

This device is first of its kind and there has been no such device available in the market. So the four boys are very optimistic and hope that the product will have a great demand in the market. “It can help parents to prevent their babies from the side effects of daily use diapers and can give comfort to those patients who remain bedridden because of serious illness.” It will almost make an end to bed-wetting, a peculiar crisis that thousands of people live with, for most of their lives.

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