Women with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) tend to have heavy menstrual flows, and there aren’t many products that can help them manage these symptoms. Inspired by one of our team members' relative diagnosed with PCOS, we found it a very relevant and important health issue to focus upon.
Women with PCOS who have a heavy flow may produce up to 30 mL of menstrual fluid in one day, as opposed to the average woman producing around 30 mL of menstrual fluid in an entire cycle (4-7 days).
They often have to change their menstruation products every 2 hours which can be very tedious. In order to combat these issues, we decided to create an automated menstrual cup, SmartCup, which safely indicates when the user should change their product.
What it does
SmartCup uses the conductance of menstrual blood to sense when the menstrual cup is close to full capacity. Five copper nodes are placed equidistantly on the 25 mL line of the menstrual cup; in addition to one more node which sits at the bottom of the cup. We have set up an open circuit so that when blood fills the cup and connects the bottom node and top nodes, the circuit closes thus producing a voltage which we are measuring using a voltmeter. Then, it will send a message to the user as a reminder to remove the cup through a server. Through this innovative design, the user doesn’t have to constantly wonder whether or not to take out their cup. They can rely on SmartCup to handle the management of the menstrual cup. Our mbed microcontroller used a TCP socket connection to send a request to our server so that our server can host it on AWS. We can then alert the user via SMS or email about their cup being filled.
How we built it
Using an mBed board connected to the internet via ethernet, we were able to prototype a circuit representing the current flowing through menstrual fluid through the menstrual cup. In place of the menstrual fluid and cup, we used saline and a plastic cup. The voltage was read through voltmeters. TCP socket connections to make requests to an AWS server. The server stored information about different users and device ideas when the mBed send a request to our server. We would query our user's database to find their contact information and send them a notification through email through AWS SNS.
We created an ideal CAD model using Fusion360 representing what the actual device would look like, including the tiny copper nodes and a small RSID chip. The model was helpful to include on our developed website, running on a AWS server.
Challenges we ran into
We had to do a lot of math beforehand regarding the circuitry of the device and how to accurately combine the hardware and software. On a similar note, implementing hardware can be very delicate and tedious. We redid our circuitry many times trying to figure out different bugs. We had some issues with the WebDev portion of the project as well, as it was tedious to personalize the website using CSS.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that we were able to complete our project successful as we hoped and that we were able to accurately detect whether the cup was full or not.
What we learned
We learned how to organize our circuit board to work more efficiently and make it more understandable. Our members individually learned more about databased, servers, webdev, and electronics in general.
What's next for Smart Cup
In order to go ahead with smart cup, the next move would be to purchase RFID or NCF readers and chips for the circuit board. It is important for this device to be non-invasive. We would also like to potentially acquire better conductors and materials to experiment.