Contest Aims to Harness Low-Cost Devices to Help the Poor

Steve Lohr in the New York Times: “The timing and technology are right to bring the power of digital sensing to the poor to improve health, safety and education.

That is the animating assumption behind a new project announced on Tuesday. The initiative is led by Unicef and ARM, the British chip designer whose microprocessors power most smartphones and tablets. They are being joined by Frog, the San Francisco-based product strategy and design firm, along with people described as coaches and advisers from companies and organizations including Google, Orange, Singularity University, the Red Cross and the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The long-term ambition is to jump-start an industrial ecosystem for sensing and data technology that serves the needs of mothers and children in developing nations.

The project, called Wearables for Good, is beginning with a contest to generate ideas. Applications can be submitted online on the project’s website until August 4. Two winners will be selected in the fall. Each will receive $15,000, and assistance and advice from ARM, Frog and others on translating their ideas into a product and perhaps a company.

The online application lists the required characteristics for device ideas. They should be, according to the form, “cost-effective, rugged and durable, low-power and scalable.” The form offers no price limits, but it is safe to assume the project is looking for devices priced far less than an Apple Watch or a Fitbit device.

…. the Wearables for Good project goes further, focusing less on aggregated data and more on personal monitoring. “This is the next level of what we’re doing,” said Erica Kochi, co-founder of Unicef Innovation, which pursues technology initiatives that advance the agency’s goals….(More)”