Originally published on 3 June 2015, on PSFK written by Leo Lutero. 

The Wearables For Good Challenge hopes to open the floodgates for cost-effective, low-power, durable and scalable wearable tech

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A middle-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape that is a cheap and easy-to-use tool that detects childhood malnutrition. © UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1399/Nesbitt

 

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is keen on starting a revolution in the wearable tech field to help children and women. In a competition called Wearables for Good, UNICEF together with ARM and frog design will gather submissions from individuals or teams that want to leverage the the tech category for improving lives of those in need.

The international organizations wants wearables to be a dark horse and to replicate what mobile phones did to many communities in recent years. Mobile phones provided a low-cost, highly-available way of reaching out. For example, mobile phones created India’s “Baby’s Gurgle” which uses voice messaging to relay information to mothers during their different periods of pregnancy. Similar projects has since been adapted in other Asian communities.

Today, the wearables industry, which immediately calls to mind smartwatches and activity monitors, dedicates all of its resources to catering to those who can afford them. These technologies, with a bevy of functions that monitor important aspects of health, can have valuable impacts to communities but are heavily built around infrastructure for the developed world and with highly prohibitive pricing. 
The wearable market is ripe for inclusive innovation.

The Wearables for Good Challenge Handbook. Download it at www.wearablesforgood.com
The Wearables for Good Challenge Handbook. Download it at www.wearablesforgood.com

To help aspirants, UNICEF has made available a Case Handbook, a valuable resource for those interested in submitting entries. It outline’s UNICEF’s main pointers for creating a developing world-suitable product that ensures viability and long-term sustainability.

The organization gives importance to four major factors: the project must be cost-effective, low-power, durable and scalable. The contest is also open to both high and low-tech innovations. The featured image shows a middle-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape that is a cheap and easy-to-use tool that detects childhood malnutrition.

This middle-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape is a cheap and easy-to-use wearable that detects childhood malnutrition. © UNICEF/SUDA2014-XX515/

Applications for the project will be accepted until August 4. After that, 10 or less applicants will be considered for intensive coaching by experts. A resubmission of improved proposals will pave way to final judging. Two grand winners will be announced by November 2015. Each will receive a grant of US$15,000 for the project plus incubation assistance from UNICEF, ARM andfrog design.

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