In developing countries, childbirth can be high-risk – especially if the baby is born premature. Access to sophisticated equipment, such as incubators, is not as common everywhere in the world as it is in the United States. Incubators are expensive, require constant electricity and can be complicated to operate and maintain.
James Roberts, a graduate student at Loughborough University in the UK, received the James Dyson Award for his prototype of an inexpensive, inflatable incubator for premature babies. While a standard incubator can cost more than $40,000, Robert’s prototype, called MOM, is expected to cost just $400. Robert’s will receive $45,000 from the James Dyson Award Foundation to further develop the idea.
Roberts’ prototype is manually inflatable and expands to about a meter long. In-between uses, it can be deflated to save space. It uses ceramic heaters to keep infants warm and an Arduino to control temperature. In addition, the MOM also includes a phototherapy light to help treat babies with jaundice—another vexing problem in the developing world.
Eventually, Roberts thinks it might be able to take a modular approach to expanding MOM’s functionality. A certain facility might find that it needs a scale component, or an oxygen sensing unit, but doesn’t need a built-in humidifier. In some ways, it will be customizable to fit the needs of those who use it. Very cool idea for a serious world issue.
For more on the product, visit James Dyson’s site here.