Wearables for Good
Apple watches, Fitbits, and Google Glasses are all exciting wearable technology that offer solutions to first world problems. But for the developing world, as technology marches on, they are left further behind. To encourage tech companies to think differently, UNICEF, Frog, and ARM challenged the Tech industry earlier this year. The campaign called ‘Wearables for Good’ was a competition to inspire companies to ‘Innovate for Impact’. The goal: to create wearables that could be low-priced, durable and scalable.
Over 200 submissions, from 46 countries, were reviewed and analyzed and two winners were announced on November 12. The winners include SoaPen and Khushi Baby. SoaPen is wearable soap. The soap works like a crayon in hopes of promoting handwashing to minimize the spread of infections and diseases. Teachers, parents or children can draw on their bodies and then children feel more accomplished when they wash their hands. SoaPen can be used to literally highlight areas of the child’s body that needs to be washed. This solution is universal. It involves and educates families and communities about the importance of handwashing regardless of their education or reading level.
Khushi Baby is a necklace that uses a mobile app to communicate with health workers about the patients’ medical records. With this technology, they are looking to bridge the gap of immunizations. This wearable is made possible by Near Field Communication. They modeled the necklace after cultural elements which will be a key factor to the success of the adoption. For example, in some cultures the kaala dhaago (black thread) is worn because it is believed to protect children from nazar (evil eye). This wearable incorporates that tradition into the design. Implementation will be a challenge as there will be training associated with using it and an improvement of the use of mobile will need to take place. However, UNICEF will work with Khushi Baby to make smooth out the process.
This competition has spread awareness about the developing world’s needs. It has challenged people to think outside the normal wearable market walls. With this competition, winners’ ideas will change the world. Now that’s not only good for the world, but that’s good for business.