Uri-Go, wearable technology that alerts you to how full your bladder is, has won New Zealand’s major tech award, the C-Prize. Worn as a belt, this Bluetooth-enabled product’s measuring device is roughly the size of a business card and sits just above your pubic bone inside your underwear. When its time to pee, it notifies you via your smart phone.
Uri-Go was dreamed up by inventor and paraplegic Mike Brown, who partnered with urologist Dr. Frank Kueppers and tech product engineer Brendon Hale to develop the product. Brown says not knowing when he needed to go led to some pretty embarrassing moments, whether it was in a meeting or at his brother’s wedding while giving the best man speech. “I just thought, wouldn’t it be awesome if I knew exactly when I needed to go and how full my bladder was,” he says. As far as how the device actually measures bladder fullness, he jokes, “If I tell you, I’d have to kill you,” not wanting to lose his competitive advantage.
The 2017 C-Prize competition focused on wearable technology. Uri-Go and nine other finalists were given an opportunity to develop their products and explore market potential before presenting progress to a panel of judges made up of business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs in hopes of winning a product development and marketing package worth $100,000 New Zealand dollars. The competition allowed Brown’s team to develop a simple prototype, test a number of form factors — basically the device without the technology inside — and prove market demand.
“I interviewed dozens of people with spinal cord injuries who use self-catheters to really understand their specific needs and what they thought of the concept,” says Brown. “We then gave them an opportunity to wear our form factors and shared their feedback with the judges.” The majority of the feedback was extremely positive, with most people reporting the device was so comfortable they forgot they were wearing it.
It was a hit with the judges, too. They awarded Uri-Go the grand prize, which includes $50,000 cash, a 3-D printer, office space with a one-year lease and a market research trip to the U.S.
“I know this problem intimately, and obviously I want to solve it for myself,” says Brown. “But the real joy comes with knowing there’s potential to solve this problem for millions of others.”