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Unicef chooses digital necklace and wearable soap as winners of Wearables for Good design challenge

Unicef has announced the winners of its Wearables for Good design challenge, which includes a necklace that stores electronic health data to track child immunization and a wearable soap that helps limit the spread of infectious viruses by encouraging hand washing.

Run by the charity alongside ARM and design and strategy agency frog. the competition will see the designers behind the winning designs, both led by joint Indian-US teams, receive a prize of $15,000 each and incubation and mentoring from the partners.

The Wearables for Good competition was launched in May 2015 and attracted 2000 participants from 65 countries that resulted in 250 design submissions. It focused on moving the perception of wearables from nice-to-have devices to life-saving products that could work in any environment.

The digital necklace, named Khushi Baby, uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to send and receive information through a smartphone. Data is synced to the cloud and displayed on a dashboard accessible to health officials. The other winner, SoaPen, is a personal hygiene tool in the form of a soap-crayon that encourages the habit of handwashing among school children from the ages of 3-6 years. Teachers and parents can draw or write on a child’s skin to make the act of hand-washing engaging while reducing the spread of disease.

Erica Kochi, co-lead and co-founder of Unicef Innovation said of the competition: “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.

"These results are really promising -- if I told you 10 years ago that I thought mobile phones could strengthen national health systems, you would have told me I’m crazy. I’m excited to see if wearable and sensor technologies could be the next mobile revolution.”

The winners were announced at SLUSH, a 15,000 person start-up and technology event in Helsinki, Finland, and at ARM TechCon, a high-tech event for software and hardware developers in Santa Clara, California.

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