Smart diapers

With its smart diaper for incontinent, senile patients, YesDelft techno-starter company Salusion has won the Shell LiveWire Award, worth 2,500 euros.

For more than 30 years people have been trying to come up with sophisticated diapers to make life easier for incontinent, senile patients and their nurses. Or so business students from Erasmus University, Benno Groosman and Gerard Vaandrager, discovered while searching through a patent database.

The two students, who started their own company, Salusion, a couple of years ago as a spin-off from a course titled ‘Entrepreneurship and New Business Venturing’, had been looking for a promising but dormant patent to buy and exploit. “We saw patents for diapers which produce music when wet or emit light,” Groosman says, laughing. “From a technological point of view these are very nice inventions. But for the patients they create embarrassing situations.”The two entrepreneurs ended up buying a patent from research institute TNO, which basically described a wireless read out system for diapers. With the help of mechanical and electrical engineering students from TU Delft, Groosman and Vaandrager developed an rf-receiver and a water-sensitive pad that emits radio signals. They plan to begin selling their product by the end of this year.Starting a diaper business however was not exactly a childhood dream of either of them. “We simply wanted to start a business that will have big impact on society. Both of us have relatives and friends working in nursing homes for elderly, so we knew that incontinence is a big problem.

“Nowadays nurses help patients into new incontinence bandages at set times during the day, irrespective of the state of the bandage,” Groosman says. “This can lead to bandages leaking or patients instead being unnecessarily undressed.”

These situations - annoying for both patients and nurses - can be prevented, according to Groosman and Vaandrager, who conducted their experiments together with nurses at the Zorginstelling Pieter van Foreest nursing home in Delft. Nurses can now simply occasionally scan the diaper to determine its state.

Winning a championship is the worst thing that can happen to the Ouwe Schoen (Old Shoe) football club: ‘Everyone knows that victory brings out the worst in people: chauvinism, overrating, arrogance, etc’, states the website of this sub-society of the Delftsch Studenten Corps. ‘Because Ouwe Schoen is a sportive club, the players from championship-winning teams are immediately expelled.’ However, the expelled are given a chance to become members again.“But you must re-earn your club ties”, explains Jochem Delsen, a club commissioner. “And that’s not easy, as I know from personal experience. You can expect a long evening.” A special meeting is held for expelled players. “You’re given a task: I had ninety minutes to assemble a football team of Smurf figurines bought from the Albert Heijn and get a photo of football stars framed.” And that wasn’t all: “You have to stand under a spotlight, like some of kind of interrogation, and have random football-related trivia questions fired at you. For every wrong answer, a shot of whiskey is poured into your glass. When the glass is full, you must shoot it and then sing a football song. And then run to the toilet to puke. And it doesn’t matter what you answer, because they’ll keep going until you answer incorrectly.”DSVV Ouwe Schoen already existed when, on 8 December 1889, two of its members were asked to help set up the Netherlands Athletics & Football Association – the predecessor of today’s KNVB. And the club also has the best club song of all time: “Ouwe schoen, ouwe schoen, weet je nog van toen/ Toen er nog geen voetbal was, toen was er niets te doen!” (Old shoe, old shoe, do you remember back then/When there was no football/there was nothing to do then!). Lines that still regularly echo through the locker room.