Pampers trials new 'smart wearable' diaper system in US

As the cost of connected technology lowers, there is greater potential for smart wearable devices to be integrated into everyday products. One such example was recently revealed in the US, where Pampers are trialing a new “baby tech” system in nappies that send alerts to parents via a special app.

As the cost of connected technology lowers, there is greater potential for smart wearable devices to be integrated into everyday products. One such example was recently revealed in the US, where Pampers are trialing a new “baby tech” system in nappies that send alerts to parents via a special app.

Pampers is calling their new system Lumi. The sophisticated set-up tracks babies' activity through a dedicated sensor that attaches to the diapers, and is linked to an app wirelessly and through a specially-designed external camera.

When a nappy is wet, the app alerts caregivers. But it also features a range of other functions and data-gathering modes as well.

In addition to the core function, the sensor sends out extra information on the baby's sleep patterns and the time it spends awake. Through the app, parents can also manually track additional information like the number of dirty nappies that have been changed and the frequency of feeding times.

The company did not reveal how much the system, which is launching in the States, will cost so far.

The announcement last month from Pampers, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, is a sign that the "baby tech" industry is taking off. The Internet of things has been introduced into more homes, and promises to make routines and tasks more efficient.

Other companies have launched similar products for babies – connected cribs, smart night lights and pacifiers, and feeding bottles that track mealtimes. Researchers report that the interactive baby monitor market alone will reach more than US$ 2.5bn in the next five years.

As the amount of smart wearable devices for youngsters increases, however, experts suggests parents should make decisions about how much tech to use as they look to raise their babies healthily in an ever connected world.

From social media to smart nappies, parents today are grappling with an expanding array of privacy concerns placed center stage by widespread connectivity of devices. Posting photos, tracking their development on a smartphone or using search engines for finding health information can all have consequences for children for the rest of their lives.

The goal of Pampers’ Lumi system is to allay fears for new parents, and feedback from testers so far has been positive, according to commentators.

The system encrypts its data and uses the same security standards as the financial services industry, said Pampers spokeswoman Mandy Treeby. However, it doesn’t include 2-factor authentication, something many security professionals consider key to preventing unauthorized access.

Lumi isn't the first venture into high-tech nappies. Three years ago, Google's parent company Alphabet filed a patent for a diaper sensor for detecting and differentiating faeces and urine. In 2018, Huggies teamed up with Korean company Monit to provide a “smart” nappy sensor in Japan and Korea.

Experts warn that the risk with so many ordinary objects becoming "smart" devices is that it makes them dependent on software updates and susceptible to bugs or malfunctions. Some products may even lose their connectivity if a company folds or discontinues the line. For example, Nike's US$ 350 self-lacing shoes stopped working earlier this year due to a software update.

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