Aussie company creates the world's first electronic underpants

Published 29 March 2010

More smart garments are coming to market; the latest addition: electronic underpants able to send text messages if the wearer became incontinent; this piece of clothing is aimed at the old and infirm, but clothes embedded with sensing and transmission devices will be of benefit to soldiers and first responders, measuring the wearer’s vital signs to alert medical teams in the event of injury

We have written several stories about “smart” clothing, that is, clothing which have communication devices embedded in their fabric to monitor to vital signs of soldiers, first responders, and fire fighters. Such information is relayed continuously and in real time to medical centers behind the lines. If there is a sudden change in body temperature or heart rate, for example, a message can be sent to the individual to drink water, move to the back and rest, etc. If a soldier or a first responder is injured, the medical team rushing to help him or her already has some information on the wounded individual’s condition, making first quicker and more effective (see “New Fiber Nanogenerators Could Lead to Electric Clothing,” 16 February 2010 HSNW; and “The Day of Smart Garments Nears,” 5 July 2007 HSNW).

There are more development on the smart clothing front. An Australian company on Friday announced the rollout of what it said were the world’s first electronic underpants, saying its product was able to send text messages if the wearer became incontinent.

Designed for the elderly and infirm, the SIMsystem will be used in homes for the aged across New South Wales state to monitor incontinence after successful trials in Victoria, the company Simavita said.

Incontinence management is a key area in which innovative technologies can benefit aged care,” said chief executive Philippa Lewis. “We developed SIMsystem to provide greater comfort and dignity to the elderly while aiming to significantly lower costs for aged care facilities.”

Simavita said its underpants have a disposable element similar to a regular incontinence pad and include a detachable transmitter that relays readings from the pad’s sensor strip over a wireless network to a central computer.

Alerts are sent via text message or over the institution’s paging system.

More than 90 percent of Australians living in elderly care facilities are believed to suffer from incontinence — a problem that currently requires staff to carry out frequent manual checks throughout the day.