Having your phone alert you when to head to the bathroom seems like another semi-useless technological invention dreamed up by bored Silicon Valley hackers to make even the most routine human behaviors require a Bluetooth connection. Don’t you just…feel it? But for people with incontinence, a sensor that monitors the expansion of the bladder could be the end of adult diapers.
Brightly is a belt-like sensor that, when worn on the front of the body, detects when the bladder is expanding. It makes use of bioimpedance spectroscopy, which measures changes in body tissue through electrical signals. When the bladder is nearing full, the device sends an alert to the user’s phone to let them know that now might be a good time to take a bathroom break. The alerts could help people get to a washroom before an accident happens.
The CDC estimates that incontinence affects up to half of the older adult population, and costs $19.5 billion a year in the U.S., largely because of the cost of laundry and protective pads [PDF]. Nor is it just limited to older people. Some 5 to 6 percent of women in their 20s are estimated to have overactive bladder.
Brightly, which could also be used to alert nurses in hospitals when a patient might wet the bed, is still being tested by urologists, and isn’t available just yet. The device will cost around $400.