UNICEF and ARM partner to bring wearables to developing countries


There have been many conversations lately concerning the sustainability of wearables, but eminent children’s charity UNICEF eliminated all question of wearables relevancy when they asked, “Can we develop innovative, affordable solutions to make wearables and sensor technology a game-changer for women and children across the world?”

The Wearables For Good Challenge is an initiative currently crowdsourcing proposals “to identify and develop solutions for areas where wearable devices can generate tremendous social good.” UNICEF partners with tech mogul ARM and design company Frog to award two winners $15,000 for designs that are ultimately cost-effective, rugged and durable, low-power, and scalable.

For ARM, the challenge is a blend of business opportunity and social responsibility. “It feels to me like the pace of innovation has increased, the cost of innovation has come down,” says CEO Simon Segars, noting his intention to explore the possibilities the wearables market may offer in developing countries. “So if some good comes from this, then that will be great.”

Erica Kochi, co-founder of UNICEF Innovation Center is more optimistic. “When you think of wearable technology… you might not necessarily think UNICEF. But we see it as the future and a way to deliver value for children.”

The challenge’s accompanying handbook offers some examples to consider; wearables to compare and contrast symptoms of illnesses, technology to monitor pregnancy, sensors to transmit critical health information to physicians nearby, community warning systems for natural disasters — just to name a few. Several thousand heads are better than one, so it will be interesting to see what the winning designs will be come November.

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