ALMA Smart Underwear
When symptoms occur, a female will use the smart underwear in order to identify what type of infection is coming. The biosensor placed in the gusset of the underwear, measures pH and other biomarkers present in vaginal fluid. The data is accessible to the user through the phone and if necessary the app directly connects to professionals for medical support.
Our user-centric design process is driven by insights from the ALMA meets Flora survey and co-design workshops. The technology was developed together with our industrial partners, Fraunhofer IZM (Berlin) and Empa (Switzerland) during Re-Fream Project (read our blog) commissioned by EU Horizon 2020 in 2019. In addition to the smart underwear ALMA is building a web-based community platform which will allow users toco-create knowledge around female intimate care.
The physical co-creation process in Berlin (Fraunhofer IZM) lasted from July – when we could travel again – to August. This process was very challenging since Tommaso was supposed to coat the sensor but due to complications in his laboratory at Cambridge, the team had to do all the testing in Berlin without him, with scientists at Fraunhofer IZM. Nonetheless, we successfully built a modular design where the technology is embedded in the gusset of the underwear- where the pH sensor is located- and the data is conducted through some conductive wires to a small case where the electronics are kept. The modularity allows the sensor to be easily removed when washing the garment. The prototype even has wireless communication that can potentially allow a female to access her own information, to know better her body and feel encouraged to seek appropriate help when needed.