People who experience urinary incontinence often rely on disposable briefs or washable underwear for protection. However, Jean Rintoul, CEO of startup Lir Scientific, is offering another method: Brightly, a wearable device that senses bladder expansion and alerts when it’s time to use the bathroom.
Equipped with non-invasive biosensors, Brightly resembles a belt and is worn around the user’s abdomen. When the bladder fills up, the device uses Bluetooth to send a reminder – a choice of sound or vibration – to the wearer’s smartphone to use the bathroom. The device has a swappable battery for long-time use.
“I realized the bladder is one of the easiest things to see with the technology because it’s this large balloon of conductive material which is expanding and contracting,” Rintoul tells WIRED.com.
Rintoul’s goal is to eliminate the need for adult diapers and briefs. “The idea is to give people back some dignity and independence,” she tells Wired. The CEO created a prototype while at HAX, an investment company with offices in San Francisco and Shenzhen, China, that helps startups bring new hardware products to fruition.
People may wonder how Brightly compares to vibrating watches, which provide bathroom reminders for people with daytime wetting problems and urge incontinence. Rintoul hopes that her device can not only help people with bladder problems, but also be used for medical imaging and measuring lung expansion.
Brightly is expected to sell at about $400. If successfully marketed, the device could be a game-changer for American adults aged 65 and older, which make up over half of the incontinent population.