Earlier this year, Unicef teamed up with two technology leaders, ARM and frog, to ask electronics designers worldwide to think creatively about how wearable technology could change the way people solve some of the world's biggest problems. The response was overwhelming.
Denise Gershbein, executive creative director at frog said:
As we kick off this next phase of the challenge, our goal is to not only help develop impactful design solutions, but to catalyze a conversation around the actual definition of wearables and the idea of social impact. Wearables are no longer just devices we wear on our bodies to measure our heart rate or count our steps. What really makes them 'tick' is when they are embedded within the context of entire networks, generating significant sustainable social impact.
Dubbed Wearables for Good, the design challenge brought in 250 entries from 43 countries in just four months. The call for "a remarkable new wearable and sensor-based devices capable of helping the world's most vulnerable people" attracted a variety of designers, engineers and technologists.
The innovators tackled a mind-boggling breadth of child and maternal health issues, from medication tracking and water purification to sanitation/hygiene and child abuse. These projects consider in new ways of how wearables can save lives in even the most physical and energy constrained environments. "We had the opportunity to look at wearables in the context of social good," David Maidment, mobile segment marketing manager at ARM, told EBN in an interview. "That's an exciting opportunity for a whole new use case above the use cases we hear and read bout today."
A panel comprised by members of the sponsoring organizations judged the projects. Maidment explained:
We've seen incredible submissions from individuals who have very low resources available and had to be creative about how they submitted. This challenge has definitely inspired people whether at an individual level, a group level, or academic level. Many have seen this challenge as opportunity to take their solution forward.
They were judged based on how well they aligned with Unicef's mission, as well as for scalability, robustness, cost-effectiveness, and business promise, Maidment said. He added:
It's been a fascinating process. It's deliberately the most inclusive challenge that we believe has ever been run. We weren't prescriptive in terms of what entrants should do beyond alignment with Unicef. We were keen to entrants that were reflective of and with a broad demographic.
From among these promising projects, two winners will receive $15,000 grants and incubation and mentorship from the challenge's sponsors. The results will be announced in at a tech event in Helsinki, Finland and ARM TechCon in Santa Clara, CA.
To see a slideshow of all of the finalist's ideas (along with pictures of the individual or team of designers), click on the image below:
10 Wearables for Good Design Finalists
Which project captures your imagination? Let us know in the comments section below.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN