A new startup is aiming to be a game changer in the icky, often euphemistically discussed reality of menstruation. Its smart tampon called my.Flow intends to help women manage and track their monthly period.
But to be clear, the tracker — following the footsteps of hundreds of smart devices tracking diet, sleep, exercise and other bodily functions — is less a tampon than it is a Bluetooth sensor connected to a traditional tampon.
“When the monitor senses full saturation, a notification will be sent to your phone via our Bluetooth-enabled belt clip, so that you never have to risk an accident or, even worse, infection, again,” explained my.Flow on its website.
The app offers built-in alerts to inform the user when it’s time to change her tampon, in light of expert recommendations of wearing one only for eight hours or less to avoid toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
The company was founded by Amanda Brief, who had the idea during a wearables group project back at the University of California, Berkeley. The tampon product she created with China-based hardware accelerator HAX can also track when one’s monthly period starts and stops and what days maintain the heaviest flow.
A likely downside: the long, insulated string of the tampon connects to a key fob-sized Bluetooth sensor that then attaches to the waistband — a seemingly prohibitive, backward way of doing things in this day and age.
The prototype sensor revealed to the market, about the size of one’s palm, is deemed bigger than other gadgets like the original Fitbit. One has the option of slipping the sensor inside the custom key fob if she doesn’t want to clip it onto the waistband, but that would not actively monitor menstrual flow.
As Engadget also points out, the focus of my.Flow too could be problems that common sense can take care of.
“I don't actually know how one forgets about a tampon, and it's also not that hard to remember to change it before the workday is done,” wrote Dana Wollman in her report, adding that most absorbent tampons have been discontinued, and the ones today easily gets saturated — an obvious signal to change.
She also identified more feasible problems, such as leakage and the fleeting discomfort of using tampons in the first place.
The project is expected for release next year and currently seeks funding.