As I have mentioned many times before, I really love the use of appropriate technology to make a significant contribution to our lives. It is hard to do much better than saving our babies from death.
Hypothermia and infection are among the top causes of newborn deaths for the poor around the world. Regular temperature monitoring can enable early intervention.
Bempu is a new startup based in India that is developing a wrist-band for newborns that monitors their temperature and gives an audio-alarm if the temperature is unsafe. This isn’t an Apple-watch but it is just as worthy of publicity.
The Gates Foundation, and others, have contributed money to bring this product to market.
From an article on the new wristband:
We know what the problems are, we know what to do about it and it’s not happening,” says Karsten Lunze, a doctor and expert in newborn hypothermia at Boston University. If Bempu, which is still in prototype and will likely get to market by the end of 2015, succeeds, “it would be a miraculous catalyzer that everyone has been looking for over a decade,” he says. It’s testing well so far: A prototype, used on 25 newborns this year, detected a temperature drop a full 24 hours before hospital workers noticed.
Bempu was born after Narain followed his nose to the global south at 27, where he worked as an engineering fellow at Embrace, a nonprofit that makes a cheap, portable and rechargeable incubator for newborns. He noticed something clear: No one was really watching closely. Nurses lacked thermometers; some couldn’t even read them and mothers didn’t know the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit.
Related: Manufacturing Biological Sensors Using Silk and Looms in India – Cheap vinegar test cut cervical cancer deaths in India; could help many poor countries – Using Drones to Deliver Medical Supplies in Roadless Areas – Appropriate Technology and Focus on Improving Lives at MIT – Water Wheel