In third-world countries, rural mothers will try almost anything to keep their babies warm. This is because warmth, typically found in incubators, is critical for low-birth-weight (LBW) babies to reserve their limited energy for healthy organ development rather than just trying to maintain body temperature. Problem is, incubators cost $20,000, depend on electricity, and even broken hand-me-downs can only be found in metropolitan health centers. So mothers risk scalding their babies by wrapping them with hot water bottles, boxing them in with light bulbs, or placing them in ovens(!).
A team of graduate students traveled to Nepal and India to conduct research, and came up with a modified sleeping bag instead of a cheaped out incubator box. Embrace Global‘s incubator alternative features:
- 1% of the cost of a typical incubator
- No electricity required (maintains constant comfortable temperature with a refresh-able phase-change material much like hand-warmer packets used by skiiers and campers
- Washable nylon and vinyl materials for maintenance and ability to pass on to multiple babies
- Easy repair of button closures rather than zippers or velcro
- “Kangaroo care”-style portability with straps so mothers can be productive and mobile (often returning to field work soon after giving birth) while bonding with baby
The idea and business grew out of a Stanford class on Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability, a part of Stanford’s d.school design school. Since completing their class project, the team has won several design competitions, including being featured in the Top 25 of the American Express Members Project.