Henkel partners with medical technology company Smartz AG for smart adult care solutions
Henkel (Düsseldorf, Germany) has signed a joint marketing and development agreement with Smartz AG. This allows the partners to offer hygiene product manufacturers new, market-ready digital health products, enabled by printed electronics. The partnership brings together conductive inks from Henkel´s printed electronics portfolio with Smartz’ existing adult care Internet of Things (IoT) hardware and software solutions. Together, both companies are able to create smart hygiene products that can sense when a wearer needs to be changed or moved, supporting and unburdening medical personnel. With an ageing population and increasing demands for adult care, such solutions provide an effective way to offer improved performance that simplifies the tasks of caregivers. At the same time, it provides dependent people with a less intrusive service and further protection. For Henkel, this is a pillar in its growth strategy for the smart solutions and data-driven services market.
Developed alongside Smartz, Henkel brings a complete solution to market that combines the medical technology specialist’s IoT and software platform with Henkel’s printed electronics. This solution provides manufacturers of hygiene products with smart capabilities that can be integrated into existing product designs and produced on a large scale. Through the partnership agreement, the companies will also jointly develop future generations of smart care products and new applications relating to digital health.
By offering a full smart adult care solution, conventional incontinence products, such as adult diapers, can be transformed into smart, connected hygiene products. Smartz’ special pod sensor design is a clip-on, reusable device that works in tandem with a sensing interface, which can be integrated within a layer of the diaper. Using conductive inks from Henkel, the sensing material can be printed into the material for the incontinence product at the time of manufacture. This market-ready material is non-invasive, fully safe for skin contact and allows the sensors to communicate wirelessly with a caregiver´s software dashboard.
Manufacturers can integrate this added functionality to conventional hygiene products within the existing manufacturing infrastructure. Yet, it helps healthcare or care providers to quickly realise cost savings by avoiding unnecessary checking and product changes. This also helps to avoid additional inconvenience or even distress that individuals may experience when action is taken needlessly or when it is delayed. This is especially true for patients unable to communicate their needs. Timely changes and regular repositioning support the prevention of dermatitis, bed sore and urinary tract infections, which are often associated with incontinence patients. The wearers’ status is sent wirelessly to the Smartz app, where it can be monitored via a dashboard of health and wellness metrics or passed to existing monitoring and call systems to keep all relevant information in one place. All data is securely encrypted to comply with relevant privacy legislation.
“We believe in the power of data in the context of medicine. At Smartz, we have a decade of experience in building a robust, yet flexible platform to fully realise this vision,” says Michael Spooner, CEO Smartz. “With Henkel we have found a partner that complements our technology with the target market experience and network, as well as outstanding printed electronics expertise.”
“With the introduction of our smart adult care solution, we are able to help our customers add extended value to their hygiene products in a way that offers truly meaningful quality of life benefits to so many,” comments Jenna Koenneke, head of market strategy Consumer Goods at Henkel. “Working to incubate, develop and commercialise this innovative application with our printed electronics technology and Smartz is a particular source of pride, as driving digitalisation and supporting sustainable, healthier lifestyles are focus areas for Henkel. It perfectly resonates with our company’s strategy of purposeful growth via innovation, sustainability and digitalisation.” Smart solutions as well as data-driven services for different segments, such as health, but also living, industry and mobility, play an increasingly important role in the company’s portfolio. And Henkel is taking steps to increase this role even further in the future.
By creating an integrated platform, Henkel and Smartz are providing manufacturers of hygiene products with a scalable solution that can be customised to suit the branding and user requirements of their customers. The first commercial product targets the adult care market, with features including moisture sensing, patient position, environment temperature, and fall detection. The software also allows for individual goal setting per patient, such as alarms for caregivers to reposition to help prevent bed sores and additional incontinence related side effects.
The solution is seamlessly integrated into existing diaper designs without additional capital expenditure. Furthermore, the turnkey solution ensures that concept, prototyping, calibration, and field tests can be rapidly completed within six months. Manufacturers have the access to both partners’ expertise while being able to source the full solution from a single point of contact.
In addition to a joint marketing agreement, the parties have entered a joint development agreement to support development of additional features and additional commercial products extending into adjacent markets like baby care in the future.
Caption: By offering a full smart adult care solution, conventional incontinence products, such as adult diapers, can be transformed into smart, connected medical devices (photo: Henkel)