EL Wire to Help Little Kids - a Concept

Introduction: EL Wire to Help Little Kids - a Concept

About: love understanding people's needs and coming up with a product or solution to help.

What is this 'ible all about?

If you are a parent, you know babies are beautiful and fragile things.  In the first few days of life many children need some extra time in the hospital ward.  One common reason for a few days in the neonatal ward is paediatric jaundice (yellowing of the skin is a symptom).

Jaundice can be caused by the presence of bilirubin in the blood.  It is possible to break down the bilirubin through the application of phototherapy (light) of a certain wavelength.  The light breaks down the bilirubin that causes jaundice - a process called phototherapy. Once the bilirubin is broken down, it allows a well-hydrated baby to pass it out in their 'number ones and twos'.

Phototherapy systems on the market are cumbersome, expensive, and bulky.  Nevertheless these systems have been developed for approval as a medical device.

Here's an idea - what if you could use EL wire as a way of delivering the phototherapy in a blanket as a therapy for paediatric jaundice?

Some references:

Description of jaundice and phototherapy (1)

Description of jaundice and phototherapy (2)

Definition of a Medical Device

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The 'Lullaby' from GE


This 'ible presents some exploratory ideas only.  Please note the following:
- This is not a medical device
- No claims are made about safety or effectiveness of this device
- There are no device approvals or submission
- This 'ible does not represent the opinion of the author's employer
- I haven't done a prior art search, this idea may be out there already
- Medical devices have benefits and risks inherent with their use.  For an electronic device, significant work is required to demonstrate safety and effectiveness of the device.  Some examples of the work required to demonstrate this:

1. understanding intended use and forseeable misuse
2.  demonstration of safety and effectiveness including:
~ clinical data for effectiveness
~ demonstration of safety (not limited to) the independent compliance to standards such as:
* electomedical compatibility
* high voltage / risk of electric shock
* ingress protection against debris and liquids
* biocompatibility
* battery safety
* transportation
3. ethics approval
4. consequences and contra-indications of a therapy.  For instance - a light source might contain 'bad' wavelengths such as UV that causes skin cancer as well as the 'good' therapy wavelengths. 
5.  many other things! Nothing should take the place of a good clinician or medical specialist. If in doubt, see your paediatrician / doctor.

In short, don't try this at home! 

Step 1: What to Buy

Step 1:

Buy an EL battery powered kit. (link)

Make sure the light wavelength can provide isomerisation of the bilirubin (the thing that causes jaundice in the baby's bloodstream).  This wavelength is 420-470 nanometers, or a blue color (close enough).

Buy a blanket (for example) (link)

A good blanket for newborns is the 'swaddle me'.  It is a great product, but as a baby gets older (3+ months) they wriggle out of it!  Fortunately the jaundice is more an issue at the younger ages.

1) If you can come up with a wrap for a child less than 6 months old - my hat off to you!!
2) Nothing is warmer than a cuddle for your child.

Step 2: Activate!

Step 2:

Wrap the (little) person in EL wire and blanket.

Switch on the EL light!

Next Steps:

Up to you! It's a long road.  It is very rewarding to turn a concept from the idea phase into an approved medical device, helping (little) people every day.

I hope this 'ible inspires you to take the next steps toward such success.  Good Luck!

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea, yet illegal in Europe. The EL wire inverter creates a radio frequency that is not biocompatible. Sorry to rain on your parade, but I've tried to make these things before. It would be hard to get a CE and FCC certification.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction


    I'm sorry to rain on your parade, but respectfully you are mistaken.

    The EL inverter is as I say in my 'ible, a 'concept'. To bring a product to market as you mention requires a number of certifications prior to sale in the relevant market.

    I'm not a regulatory specialist. My understanding is that the regulatory bodies in many countries require that the product be safe and effective. There are a number of standards governing this, one you might wish to look at is EN 60601 for medical devices.

    The least of your challenges will be to make an EL converter (switch mode power supply) emc, safety, esd.. compliant. This can be done with relatively little cost. The reason the EL creates emissions in its current embodiment is that it was designed for a different intended use, ie a 'toy' or equivalent OEM product, not a medical device. A much more significant cost would be proving to the regulators that the medical device is 'effective' ie. through a clinical trial, literature review, medical expert....

    One of my learnings about innovation is when different disciplines combine or create something new together or meet a need, this is when great things happen.

    So sorry to rain on YOUR parade troyko, but these things ARE possible, they have been created before and they will be created again with the right combinations. How do I know this? not only through my own experience in product development, but moreso through this site.

    - textiles combined with electronics
    - food combined with camping
    - rapid prototype manufacture and furniture
    - low cost concept development (duct tape canoes)

    best of luck on your journey, I hope we cross paths.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    During the day I'm a Clinical Engineer. We've been using your idea for a number of years. Google "Biliblanket". My youngest child had to use one for a few weeks in fact.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Its an okat idea, but you probably should have done a little more research into the guidelines (and what's already available, for that matter) EL wears out pretty quickly as is, and (as well as the blue) lets off wavelengths I believe are banned by the phototherapy guidelines... and some types of EL are carcinogenic on their own ... all this aside from the inherent danger of wapping a kid in electronics, and that godawful noise the battery makes, which is (according to my little bro) like that silent ringtone...adults may barely hear it, but it's quite earsplitting to kids. I don't mean to be snarky, but this really strikes me as more dangerous than anthing


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Sew Lolita, Thanks for the input and feedback. 1) I call it a concept, if it were ready for submission as a medical device for the FDA I would have done it and made a lot of money. 2) I highlighted some of the risks with trying this concept further, and I, in no way suggest you use it on kids without ensuring it's safe and effective for use first 3) It's important to do a hazard analysis first, and understand what mitigation can be applied. All of these concerns could be resolved! - the humming noise can be minimised with good electro-mechanical design. There is NOTHING to say that a driver for EL wire has to create a noise to work. - It might be possible to sew the EL wire in a blanket with a clear, washable cover. This wouldn't cost a lot more and it is possible to envisage that this would ensure there is some distance between the baby and the EL wire material (also in a plastic coating, inside a coating). This also avoids the choking hazard. - The end of the EL wire can be easily tucked into the sewn blanket. Call the idea halfbaked or what you will, but we all need to address the increasing costs of health care in a safe and effective way. I'm comfortable that my idea was 'out of the square' when all of the other 'ibles appear to be about lighting shit up in a linear way. And yes, I think you are being snarky - and the fact that you can 'invent' something: >>I could knock something safer, better, cheaper (than if you got enough EL >>for a decent amount of light), more lasting (you /did/ know that ELis not >>terribly bright to begin with, and loses about 1/2 of its brightness after >>about 3 months of being 'always on', right?) in half an hour with LED's.. this pays me a delightful compliment for which I thank you. (TRIZ). Anyway, best of luck as a fellow competitor in this competition. I hope you win. Cheers


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This seems possible, and much easier, cheaper and portable than the current treatment. Congratulations.