Unicef launches Wearables for Good design challenge

Unicef and software design company ARM have come together for a multi-year partnership to accelerate the development of new wearable devices that tackle maternal and child health needs in emerging economies.

To kick off the new partnership, the pair will work with product strategy and design firm frog on a Wearables for Good project. Entries will be judged on several levels including product and service design that disrupts or improves the status quo, sustainability of technology and potential impact at scale.

Two winners will be selected at the end of the design challenge and each will receive $15,000 funding alongside incubation and mentorship support from ARM and frog.

Denise Gershbein, executive creative director at frog, said that while wearables are today focused on fitness and the quantified self they have many uses.

“There are countless opportunities for wearable and sensor technology to make more of an impact in emerging markets, particularly in the next wave of social impact development. With the ‘Wearables for Good’ challenge we hope to foster dialogue among new partners and increase cross-discipline innovation.”

The competition will run for six months and invites developers, designers, community partners and problem-solvers to design a wearable device that offers a cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable solution.

Other planned activity will see ARM work alongside Unicef’s network of Innovation Labs and country offices to identify and scale up pilot projects.

Longer term, the Unicef/ARM partnership will conduct research to evaluate and promote market opportunities in developing countries. With the findings, the duo will outline the business case for investing in solutions for mobile financial services, identity, transportation, learning and wearable/sensor technology.

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