A necklace that stores immunisation records has been unveiled as one of two winners of UNICEF’s Wearables for Good Challenge, in collaboration with ARM and frog.

Launched in May 2015, the competition aims to change the perception of wearables from nice-to-have devices to life-saving products that could work in any environment.

Developed at the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (CEID), the Khushi Baby necklace stores electronic health data, providing a two-year immunisation record for children.

The device was developed as part of the “Appropriate Technology in the Developing World” course, co-taught by Assistant Director of the CEID, Zinter, and Bo Hopkins, a Lecturer at the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS).

The digital necklace uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to send and receive information through a smartphone. Healthcare workers can scan the NFC chip with a smartphone to get access to the data without consulting a centralised database and patient data is later synced to the cloud. The pilot scheme was conducted in 100 villages in rural Udaipur, Rajasthan.

When Khushi Baby Director, Ruchit Nagar, did a research trip to India, he found that many babies wear black necklaces around their neck. Khushi Baby transforms the traditional necklace worn by Indian children to protect them from the “evil eye” into a digital storage unit for their medical and immunisation records.

“The Khushi Baby system enables access to culturally appropriate wearable digital medical records, even in the most remote and isolated areas,” said Nagar.

“As a UNICEF Wearables for Good Challenge winner, we look to expand from monitoring the vaccination progress of 1000 children in 100 villages to a larger beneficiary base in areas beyond India where our digital system can streamline access and delivery to health care,” said Nagar.

“By showing how wearables and sensors can be re-imagined for low-tech and unconnected environments, our winners were able to demonstrate the potential life-saving benefits these innovations can offer. I’m excited to see if wearable and sensor technologies could be the next mobile revolution,” said Co-lead and Co-founder of UNICEF Innovation, Erica Kochi.

“We wanted to elevate wearable and sensor technology in a way that moves beyond fitness trackers on the wrist and towards improving the lives of mothers and children across the world,” said Executive Creative Director of frog, Denise Gershbein.

The other winner of the competition, SoaPen, developed a wearable soap that acts as a crayon. It’s designed to prevent the spread of disease by encouraging hand-washing among children between the ages of 3 and 6.

Chosen from 250 submissions and 65 countries, the winners will each receive a $15,000 prize, and incubation and mentoring from the competition’s three sponsors.

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