Four brilliant young minds – Rahul Panicker, Jane Chen ,Linus Liang and Naganand Murty were posed a challenge. The challenge was – designing an incubator which would cost less than 1% of the cost of traditional incubators. This was happening at the Design for Extreme Affordability class of Stanford University.
The challenge was indeed challenging as the cost of an incubator in Western Countries is approximately $20,000 (INR 10 lakh). If the challenge could be met with, it was going to be a boon for mothers globally, especially in the developing countries like India, China, Nepal etc.
Data says that every year, globally, around two crore babies are born prematurely or with a low birth weight, and close to 40 lakh of them die, mostly in developing nations. Also, survivors often suffer from various diseases like diabetes, heart problems and low IQ when they reach adulthood.
All these repercussions of premature birth can be avoided by simply keeping the babies warm for few days immediately after their birth.
In order to meet the challenge, few other factors also needed to be considered like the traditional incubators ran on electricity. If the same solution could be applied to various villages in developing nations, then this would be a beacon for many social entrepreneurs worldwide. But the supply of electricity is extremely unreliable in these areas.
Fighting all these factors and challenges, to save the premature babies of the world, Embrace took birth. The quartet at the Design for Extreme Affordability class came up with a solution, Embrace which was an embrace of a new hope to the parents of the entire globe, especially those who could not afford high-end hospitals for the birth of their children.
Embrace. Source: embraceglobal.org
Embrace looks like a tiny sleeping bag containing a pouch of phase-change material (PCM)—a wax-like material—that keeps babies warm for up to six hours at regular body temperatures.The design is such that the mother can hold the baby close to her. This goes in sync with the concept of ‘Kangaroo Care’ where the mother actually embraces the child.
How Embrace Works. Source: embraceglobal.org
The pilot was run in India in 2011 and the early results were found to be very assuring. Designed in a very stripped-down, intuitive way, it is extremely easy to use and requires just around half an hour of electricity to charge and the cost is about INR 10,000, merely 1 percent of the cost of incubators available in Western markets.
The team is also working on various other prototypes where the incubators could be charged with a heating device which runs on boiling water. This will be effective in areas where there’s almost no electricity. The team at Embrace is extremely agile in learning the requirements of their users and making the necessary changes in no time. After all, it’s a question of life and death!
According to Rahul Panicker, co-Founder, Embrace,
“Embrace’s goal is to assist these caregivers in their quest to deliver better healthcare to their patients. Seeing the product in use, and talking to these caregivers about how we might improve the product, is a limitless source of inspiration. “
This is the embrace of love and life.
Subscribe to Eyezon Olio Blog
Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox