The idea of “Smart Diapers” for babies dates back a few years. As noted in a recent Vox article, Huggies is now selling them in Korea and Japan and the U.S. and Mexico may be getting them next.
More companies are interested in creating and marketing these diapers as well as other “Smart” personal care products. Besides being expensive, Bluetooth technology emits harmful wireless radiation and there is currently no safe level of wireless radiation exposure that has been determined for children or pregnant women. In fact, 250 scientists have signed a petition which warns against numerous devices that emit Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation, which is used in WiFi and Bluetooth.
“Smart” Diapers also qualify as another source of “Surveillance Capitalism” since companies freely admit that they are able to gather data and track their customer use from the diaper sensors.
Regardless, companies are hoping that there is much money to be made especially since “Smart Diapers” for adults seems to already be a thriving market. Poor grandma and grandpa…
That long march toward making smart diapers happen has been driven more by fears of slipping market shares than by any kind of real demand from consumers. The furious pace of innovation belies the fact that the US diaper market is in trouble. As the birthrate declines for the seventh year in a row, there are fewer and fewer new parents to buy diapers, and almost all major diaper brands have taken hits. After Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures Huggies, laid off 13 percent of its workers in January 2018, the CEO told investors, “You can’t encourage moms to use more diapers in a developed market where the babies aren’t being born in those markets.”
Last summer, to counter wilting sales, Pampers raised the price of its signature diaper by 4 percent. Huggies is making a bet different bet: By selling upscale diapers, it hopes to recoup the profits lost to a rapidly shrinking baby diaper market.
“The fact that the birthrates are quite low in the US has stirred a lot of interest in trying to get the consumer to spend more,” said Ali Dibadj, who tracks the personal products industry for the investment management group Sanford C. Bernstein. “The only way they can increase their business is to bring better products to the market. Their whole hope is to create products that the consumer base will pay more for.”
That puts Huggies squarely in line with other companies advocating seemingly unnecessary tech infusions into ordinary hygiene products on the bet that it will widen their profit margins. The brands behind the major US diapers have already flooded the market with “smart” toothbrushes, razors, and skin care wands, all of which they hope will entice wealthier consumers who can be convinced to drop the extra money.
Read more: Huggies Now Selling Smart Diapers With Bluetooth Sensors Even Though Radiation Exposure From Them Isn’t Safe for Babies