D Free wants to make life for old and incontinent people simpler. The small device – hardly bigger than a matchbox – measures the level of the user's bladder and bowel via ultrasound. The urine and stool impulse warning system then notifies the user ahead of time via smartphone app that it will likely soon be time for a visit to the bathroom. The information that “You have approx. 10 minutes before your food reaches the end” is particularly helpful when someone is on the go. Carers and relatives of old, bedridden people can also be informed by the app, saving diapers (D Free stands for “diaper-free”).
D Free is meant to be more than just a water level mater, however. The device uses the “output” of its users as input for algorithms to find connections in “big urine data”. Inventor Atsushi Makanishi dreams of an ultrasound data platform on which a user can see their own state of health and researchers and doctors can find new insights regarding the development and prediction of illnesses in society.
Japan’s rapidly aging society is a good market for D Free to start in, with founder Nalanashi speaking of 13 million potential users. However, they will have to wait until 2018 to enjoy D Free, as that is when the financing and piloting phase (with hospitals and care homes) will be completed. But D Free is already a potentially groundbreaking idea.
We discovered this case through our Lab Around the World research trip.