A single-use, disposable feminine hygiene pad that contains paper-based microfluidic biosensors and internet-of-things technologies.
What is it?
Every month women bleed naturally during their menstruation. This blood contains valuable information about the women’s health. Analysing this blood allows for non-invasive and private diagnosis of a variety of diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia and HIV.
Our wearable is a single-use, disposable feminine hygiene pad that contains paper-based microfluidic biosensors and internet-of-things technologies. Monthly, women using our smart pad during their period, can be provided with immediate early diagnostics and health monitoring of key biomarkers, that changes based on her health and well being. Biomarkers are discretely analyzed in the pad, whereafter the encrypted data is sent wirelessly to her smartphone. It’s an inexpensive and non-invasive menstrual blood analysis platform.
Please see the attached video presentation of our idea presented as a final project from Singularity University, 2014. It answers most questions in this application in about 6 minutes. The video can also be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T04faJK0LiI (disclaimer; the video is 12 months old – we have developed the idea dramatically since then).
How is it used?
Our pad can be used during the 5-7 days a month women menstruate. Without any change in behavior, our pad is used the same way a woman normally uses menstrual pads. The technology, which has a target size of 3x2x0,3 cm (length, width, thickness), will be embedded in the bottom of the pad, and is not noticeable when using the product.
In our mobile application, the woman can access her data and receive simple and actionable information about her health. Only if there are signs of infection will she be asked to seek medical assistance. If the woman does not have a smart-phone, the encrypted data can through crowd-integration with smartphones from other users in her local area, transmit the data to the cloud. She can then access her information once online or have it send directly to her medical doctor.
What technologies does it incorporate?
FEMALE HYGIENE PRODUCTS
Feminine hygiene products have been around for centuries, and is a product which has been fully adapted by women around the world. Its function as a convenient and comfortable menstrual blood collector fulfills our vision for a wearable, which collects blood non-invasively without medical assistance.
Our point-of-care blood analysis platform is powered by paper-based electrochemical biosensors. Paper-based microfluidic systems are low-cost, disposable and equipment-free, which makes it highly relevant to improving healthcare and disease screening in developing countries. The paper biosensors are printed using a regular wax-printer, and then coated with specific molecules directly on paper or on small screen printed electrodes. Once these molecules bind to the targeted biomarker in the blood, a small change in electrical impedance makes it possible to collect the data as an electrical signal, registered by embedded micro-electronics.
Our micro-electronic platform consists of a low powered potentiostat, D/A- and A/D-converters, a micro processor, a transceiver as well as a low-powered biodegradable battery using no more than 1.6 volts and 2 mA at peak performance. The microelectronics registers and encrypts the information from the biosensors and transmits the results wirelessly to a smartphone.
How does it work?
Menstrual blood runs through the layers of the pad and reaches multiple inlets, from which it by capillary force is distributed to multiple biosensors. The biosensors are coated with specific molecules, which enables detection of target biomarkers in menstrual blood. Any electrochemical biosensor that detects the presence or amount of an analyte can be used in our platform.
Each biosensor is coupled to a potentiostat which controls the voltage difference between a working-, reference- and a counter electrode. Our micro-battery sends tiny amounts of current through a digital-to-analog converter, from which current runs through an op-amp, multiplexing the signal into the multiple biosensors. Binding one or more biomarkers from the menstrual blood in one or more of the biosensors, causes a change in the impedance in the working electrode. The relative electrical change translates to the amount of the specific biomarker which has been detected. The signal runs through an IV-converter and low-pass filter to an analog-to-digital converter, and finally reaches the MCU. The data is processed in the MCU, encrypted and finally send to a smartphone through a transceiver.
The data will be visualised in in a simple manner in the Qurasense mobile app, where some information may only be displayed as “you should consult your doctor”. The phone also sends the information to the cloud for storage, where it after the approval from the woman, can be shared with 3rd parties e.g. a doctor, for research or similar. The sharing of her data can be done anonymously.
We imagine women buying our wearable in the local shop or at a pharmacy where she normally buys her feminine hygiene products. As the current infrastructure in some developing countries does not support this option, we will to deliver our product through the existing infrastructure e.g. doctors, schools, government operated institutions and non-profit organisations.
Who uses it?
The product can be used by all menstruating women, typically in the age group of 10 to 55 years old. Information such as STD infections can be life-saving and will allow for the woman to seek help and receive treatment as early as possible. This will prevent the spreading of the infection as well as the devastating side effects such as infertility and death.
Information can also be shared directly with the local healthcare professionals, allowing them to more effectively provide medical assistance where it is really needed.
Information from the women collectively may also be useful for researchers, medical companies, larger institutions and government, to follow outbreaks or spreading of diseases, and to gain a deeper understanding of women’s health.
Why does it help?
To avoid the treatable consequences of infections such as STDs, it is critical to detect them early. Detection today requires medical assistance which in the developing world is a scarce resource. Our point-of-care menstrual pad addresses these challenges, making it possible for women to be tested privately and inexpensively, giving the medical environment an opportunity to effectively treat women.
Our solution is scalable, runs on low-power using micro-batteries and is light (paper-based) which makes it easy to transport. It is simple to use and solves the problems of geographical distances to medical facilities and services and the lack of medical support and personnel. It also removes the need for financial resources to run tests in expensive labs, as well as the time constraints associated with these procedures.
Soren Therkelsen, Sara Naseri
Diagnosis/Treatment/Referral, Data Collection/Data Insight
These pages have been pulled directly from applications submitted to the Wearables for Good Challenge in 2015. They represent the work of the individual teams and have subsequently not been edited.