Utilizing Color Sensors and Urinary Collection Bags as a Warning System for Hematuria

Student: Riya Bhat
Table: ENG3
Experimentation location: Home
Regulated Research (Form 1c): No
Project continuation (Form 7): No

Display board image not available



“Atlas Scientific Ezo-RGB™ Embedded Color Sensor. I2C.” Sensors & Probes, https://www.robesol.nl/en/ezo-rgb-embedded-color-sensor.html. 

Fellet, Melissae. “Fluorescent Sensor Provides Early Warning for Blocked Catheters.” Cen.acs.org, 30 Mar. 2018, https://cen.acs.org/articles/96/web/2018/03/Fluorescent-sensor-provides-early-warning.html. 

“Blood in Urine (Hematuria).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Oct. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/blood-in-urine/symptoms-causes/syc-20353432.

Schlechter, Annika. “Color to Sound with Arduino: A Color Sensor-Based Solution for the Visually Impaired.” Elektor, 10 Mar. 2022, https://www.elektormagazine.com/articles/color-to-sound-arduino-color-sensor-solution. 

“Conditions Treated - Hematuria.” Hematuria: The Presence of Red Blood Cells in the Urine - Urology at UCLA - UCLA Urology, Los Angeles, California (CA), https://www.uclahealth.org/urology/body.cfm?id=478&action=detail&ref=3. 

Additional Project Information

Project website: -- No project website --
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Research Plan:

Gross hematuria, a condition where there is visible blood in the urine, is a serious symptom that, if not treated or taken to surgery as quickly as possible, can have detrimental effects, including death. As an indicator of various diseases, such as bladder or kidney cancer, inflammation in parts of the urinary tract, blood-clotting disorders, and more, it is crucial for doctors to be notified immediately when there is a color change apart from the normal clear/yellow liquid. 

My goal is to create a system that identifies a change of color in urine and notifies medical professionals of this change with a buzzing sound.

My plan is to design, manufacture, and test a urine bag with a color sensor attached that can send an alert when the color changes from a clear/yellow color to a pink/red color.

The designing process will begin by installing the Arduino Development System, enabling me to develop a program for the Arduino Nano. I will then attach a TCS34725 Color Sensor and a piezo buzzer to a breakout board, using wires to connect the digital output pin to the pin on the color sensor and the buzzer to the pin on the Arduino Nano. I will then use a basic Python code for laptop communication with the Arduino Nano that I researched and found online for another "color sensor to sound" system (Elektor). The successful performance of this process would be the color sensor detecting a red/pink color, causing the buzzer to sound with 262 Hz for any set length of time. 

There are no risks or safety precautions that must be taken, other than being cautious when working with the wiring on the breakout board. 

Each round of design, manufacturing, and testing will bring to light new errors and enable me to improve the design. Rapidly testing and making alterations to the code and wiring system will be the key to the success of this project. 

Questions and Answers

1. What was the major objective of your project and what was your plan to achieve it? 

The two major objectives were: sensing color changes and buzzing when a color change occurs. 

Sensing color changes can be achieved by utilizing a TCS34725 Color Sensor to detect red color in the urine. 

Sending out an alert can be achieved by coding for the Arduino Nano to start the piezo buzzer when the sensor senses a red color.

       a. Was that goal the result of any specific situation, experience, or problem you encountered?  

This goal is not the result of a personal experience or problem I have encountered, rather it is something I have researched and seen in the media that I want to create a solution for. Hematuria can be an indicator of life-threatening conditions, and my medical innovation has the potential to bring attention to these health issues faster and save lives by giving doctors an ample amount of time with an immediate notification that something is wrong. 

       b. Were you trying to solve a problem, answer a question, or test a hypothesis?

I was trying to solve the problem of the great length of time it often takes to diagnose gross hematuria in hospital patients who are using a catheter, as the condition is painless and only identified through visually observing a urine bag. My project works to accelerate the time it takes to diagnose and treat the condition by notifying doctors of a urine color change immediately with a buzzer sound when it begins to have traces of blood. 

2. What were the major tasks you had to perform in order to complete your project?

I had to research a color sensor that would easily and quickly detect a color change, which I was able to do by finding the TCS34725 Color Sensor. I also had to figure out an alert system for when the color change was detected, which was a much more difficult task. I was able to create the system by using a buzzer as the alert when blood is found in the urine. This was a major task because a great deal of coding, wiring, and assembling of technology was required in order for the color sensor to send a signal to the Arduino Nano, which then sent a signal to the buzzer.   

       a. For teams, describe what each member worked on.

This was a solo project, where I designed, manufactured, and tested my urine bag on my own. 

3. What is new or novel about your project?

My project is something completely new and never been created before. This was surprising to me, as it is something so simple that I believe will have an incredible impact for the early diagnosis of issues relating to blood in the urine. 

       a. Is there some aspect of your project's objective, or how you achieved it that you haven't done before?

I have always remained on the science side of medicine, never really taking part in the engineering side of a project like this. Due to the fact that this was a solo project, I was exposed to a new side of science where I got to manufacture a medical product and work with connecting wires, a sensor, and a buzzer on a breakout board to create a warning system when a color change is detecting in urine. I have never done anything like that before, so that was an exciting aspect of this project. 

       b. Is your project's objective, or the way you implemented it, different from anything you have seen?

The closest thing I have seen to my urine bag is a warning system for catheter blockages, where a polymer disk is placed in a urine bag that releases a fluorescent dye as a visual confirmation of urinary tract infections. This innovation has a sensor that releases green dye about 14 hours before a catheter tube clogs with minerals that are produced after a urinary infection. This device is different from my project in its purpose and alert system, but similar in the concept of creating a warning system for conditions regarding urine. My project remains to be something different from everything I have seen because it works to detect gross hematuria, a condition where there are visible traces of blood in the urine, and the closest thing that doctors do to uncover this condition is by sending their patient to get a CT, MRI, ultrasound, or even an cystoscopy, a procedure where a narrow tube is fitted with a tiny camera and threaded into the bladder to examine the bladder and urethra for signs of disease. This is not done for every patient, so for those who may have urinary issues, my urine bag will solve the problem of having to wait too long to be treated by making doctors aware of the problem faster and preventing patients from having to deal with expensive imaging tests. 

       c. If you believe your work to be unique in some way, what research have you done to confirm that it is?

I have done a great deal of research into medical innovations that currently exist and have found nothing that works to solve the problem relating to diagnosing gross hematuria. As mentioned before, there are efforts towards modifying urine bags to identify/prevent urinary tract infections, however, gross hematuria is an indicator of various, much more severe health problems, ranging from inflammation to cancer, that my work can help bring attention to, unlike other medical products that exist today. 

4. What was the most challenging part of completing your project?

The most challenging part of completing my project was creating an alert system that notifies individuals when the color sensor detects a pink/red color. I don't have much experience in coding, so that would have been the most challenging part of completing my project if I wasn't lucky enough to come across a basic Python code in my research that codes to send a signal from the color sensor to the Arduino Nano to the piezo buzzer. This made the most challenging part of completing my project the assembly of the device, as I had to attach wires to the sensor, Nano, and buzzer, which I found very difficult. 

      a. What problems did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?

I had a great deal of difficulty with figuring out how to get the Python code to communicate with the Nano. I overcame this problem by persisting in my research and persevering, as that worked out to me finding instructions on how to create this connection online and trial and errors that lead me to make continuous improvements on my project. 

      b. What did you learn from overcoming these problems?

I learned that things will work out in the end as long as I keep trying. I learned a lot about the medical side of my project regarding gross hematuria, as well as how to properly engineer and build something. In terms of my specific problem, I learned more about coding and engineering, which are things I had close to no experience with before I started this project. 

5. If you were going to do this project again, are there any things you would you do differently the next time?

Focusing beyond the project itself, I would create a better schedule to manage my time better, as I found myself rushing to complete this project as the deadline neared. In terms of the project, I would look for a color sensor that is cheaper, as the TCS34725 Color Sensor ended up increasing the price of the innovation by a lot, and if this project is to ever be used in a hospital environment, it must be more cost-effective. I was disappointed to see that my project did not achieve its objective, as I know I would have been able to fix its flaws with more time, so I would continue working on this project's coding and wiring and, through the process of trial and error, work to getting my urine bag to successfully cause a buzzer sound when a color change occurs. 

6. Did working on this project give you any ideas for other projects? 

Working on this project has opened me up to countless other medical issues that have the potential to be identified and diagnosed much earlier than they are now with simple creations like my urine bag. I never expected a basic device like my project to be able to act as a warning system for gross hematuria, so, after fixing the errors in my project and creating a successful hematuria-diagnosing urine bag, I plan on brainstorming and engineering more devices that can combat other health issues. 

7. How did COVID-19 affect the completion of your project?

COVID-19 did not affect the completion of my project. This was a solo project and I did it from home, so the pandemic did not cause any issues.