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The discussion around “wearable technology” is dominated by Google Glass, smart watches, and fitness trackers. But diapers — yes, diapers — may end up being a more practical use of wearable tech than any of those.

New York City startup Pixie Scientific claims to have engineered what it calls “smart diapers.” The company says these diapers can potentially detect urinary tract infections, kidney issues, dehydration, and even Type 1 diabetes. Those are critical issues for young children, and detecting these early could keep your child from becoming ill.

“I was driving with my wife and daughter one day when my wife asked if the baby had wet herself,” Pixie Scientific founder Yaroslav Faybishenko told the New York Times. “I realized she was sitting in data.”

So what makes these diapers so smart? The front of each diaper includes a patch with different colors. When a baby wets or soils itself, the colors change depending on what proteins it detects. Then a parent, guardian, or caregiver takes a picture of the diaper patch using a smartphone and uploads it to the cloud for processing.

When the data about the patch is uploaded, Pixie will detect problems and let you know if it detects a reason to see a pediatrician or a specialist.

Pixie says the diapers are designed with the highest safety in mind, and the smart detection panel will not touch the baby’s skin. The diapers will come from vendors around the world, while panels will be built in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Unfortunately, the diapers are not available for sale now. The company is raising money for the project on Indiegogo. So far, the campaign has raised $5,355 of its base $225,000 goal.

Faybishenko expects the diapers will cost about 30 percent more than normal diapers when they retail. If you get in on the Indiegogo campaign, you can buy 30 days of diapers for $90, three months worth for $240, or a year’s worth for $800. The company is also offering to put pictures of 10 children on its diaper boxes at the cost of $2,500 per child.

If everything goes to plan, the diapers will first be tested at Benioff Children’s Hospital at the University of California, San Francisco this fall. If those test runs are successful, the product would then be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for final approval.

Check out an intro to Pixie’s “smart diapers” in the video below.


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