Startup tackles incontinence with bladder-sensing wearable

By Aditi Pai
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BrightlySan Francisco-based Lir Scientific is developing a new wearable device, called Brightly, that tracks the user's bladder fullness to help remind people to urinate. Lir Scientific hopes the device will replace adult diapers.

Brightly is a patch, worn on the abdomen, that notifies the user with either a sound or vibration when it senses that the user needs to urinate. The device will also send an alert to the user's smartphone via Bluetooth that reminds them to use the restroom, according to a post from Wired. The patch has a swappable battery so that users can wear it for as long as they want.

The company's CEO and cofounder, Jean Rintoul, previously worked at Emotiv, which has developed EEG headsets, as well as activity tracker company Basis Science, which was later acquired by Intel.

Rintoul told Wired that she created a prototype device while at HAX, a hardware accelerator that has offices in San Francisco and Shenzhen, China. She also said she expects the device to sell for $400, which is much less expensive than other devices used in hospitals currently.

Rintoul explained that moving forward, she plans to launch pilots with urologists and in hospitals to test Brightly further. In hospitals, she added, the device could help alert nurses to when patients need to urinate, which would prevent them from getting bed sores from wetting the bed. Other uses cases for the device, she said, include medical imaging and measuring lung expansion.

Last year, researchers Professor Takayasu Sakurai and Professor Takao Someya from the University of Tokyo developed a flexible, disposable sensor for adult diapers. The sensor, which can detect moisture, humidity and pressure, is printed on plastic film and will transmit information wirelessly.