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UNICEF, ARM and frog; Wearables for Good design challenge attracts over 600 registrations #WearablesForGood


Less Than One Week to go in the World’s Most Inclusive Tech Design Challenge set by UNICEF, ARM and frog

 Wearables for Good design challenge attracts over 600 registrations  #WearablesForGood

The Wearables for Good design challenge is rapidly turning into one of the most inclusive global technology races ever, attracting more than 600 registrations so far from Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and North and South America all vying for two winning places. With the entry deadline approaching rapidly (Aug. 4), the Wearables for Good challenge website is seeing 5,000 page views per week with browsers’ ages ranging from 18 to 60 years-old and a fairly even split between male and female. The challenge, coordinated by UNICEF, ARM and frog, tasks entrants with creating ideas for new and innovative wearable devices that tackle issues such as maternal and child health needs in emerging economies.


Regions involved include:

  • Africa: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe
  • Asia: China, India, Pakistan, Nepal, South Korea, Vietnam
  • Europe: UK, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain
  • North America: US, Canada
  • South America: Brazil


“It is not too late to enter – we are looking for concepts that address these global issues, not final designs,” said Erica Kochi, co-lead and co-founder of UNICEF Innovation. “We set up the challenge this way to make participation widely available to anyone with a good idea. The challenge itself is unique among open tech challenges both in its global reach and with the focus on creating products to save lives, help educate young people or advance their communities in some way.”

“The Wearables design challenge was set to encourage a diverse group of people to create ideas for new technologies that solve a social problem,” said Simon Segars, CEO, ARM. “The broad spread of people registering tells us we are succeeding. This is hugely encouraging as conceiving technologies that tackle issues such as child health and education, especially in the emerging world, demands the attention of people with an array of life and professional experience.”

“We are excited to see submissions—and expressions of interest—coming from the geographies where these solutions will bring the most value and deliver the highest impact,” said Fabio Sergio, vice president of Creative, frog. “This challenge offers an opportunity for local innovators to submit ideas and concepts that draw on their inherent sensitivity to the needs and aspirations of the people they are trying to help.”

The applications will be reviewed by a panel of technology, design and humanitarian experts from August 4, with ten finalists shortlisted. The competition panel will assess entries on several levels including product and service design that disrupts or improves the status quo, sustainability of technology and potential impact at scale.

The ‘Use Case Handbook‘, created by UNICEF and frog, guides the entrants and helps them structure their ideas. The handbook outlines the challenges that need to be addressed, as well as considerations, context and principles for good design.

Those ten finalists will receive about a month of coaching and mentoring to refine and resubmit their ideas. Out of the ten finalists, two winners will be selected at the end of the design challenge. Each winner will receive $15,000 funding alongside incubation and mentorship support from UNICEF, ARM and frog.

Innov8tiv reached out to the event holders and below is our interview:

What prompted the idea of this event?

The objective of the Challenge is simple. We want to help people; we want encourage creativity, and we want the tech sector to understand that Doing Good is Good Business. There are some fundamental principles underpinning this around the three pillars of global citizenship: information, opportunity, and choice. We believe that access to the digital world can change people’s lives because of the potential it brings. At the most basic level, it can be about the devices people have access to, as they can act as a portal to better health, education and the economy around them. The idea of something a person might wear or have near them that can bring about a key social benefit that changes their life in some way. Crucially, this is a Challenge that is being sent out to anyone with a good idea. They don’t need to be an expert; they just need to care enough to take part.

The Challenge is jointly led, and that’s important. We believe the partners all bring something unique. UNICEF has huge worldwide reach and understands how to implement humanitarian programs at scale. ARM has a breadth and depth of technology expertise in hardware and software design. Frog brings its in-depth knowledge of design and functionality, and together we all want to encourage and inspire individuals and companies to deal with some of the World’s most difficult problems.

How will this event impact maternal and child health?

You can see the potential impact most strongly in some of the examples below:

Simple things like monitoring body temperature and position in bed can help improve the life expectancy of babies that are born prematurely

The deployment of very low cost smartphones, coupled with a prototype product co-developed at the University of Oxford. It is enabling people in South African townships to get accurate information about the health of their hearts without visiting specialist facilities that are a long way away. The concept of using the power of very low-cost smartphones to process information from a sensor that is measuring heart rate, blood pressure, can also give early indicators of potential problems during pregnancy etc.

A fingerprint technology from Simprints is being rolled out to track more accurately medical records of patients thathave been highly impacted by hile level of illiteracy.

How is this event encouraging women to get involved?

We are not prioritizing one region or a section of the community over another. For us, the more diversity of individuals getting involved the more chance the Challenge has of being the success we think it will be. As I write with two weeks left before the entries deadline (Aug 4) we have seen more than 800 people registered on the Challenge website and some strong early entrants. The geographic and gender spread of interest has amazed us and we’ve seen people downloading information from all over Africa including countries such as Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, etc. There has also been strong interest from North and South America, Europe and Asia.

Is this event expected to take place annually?

The Challenge is just one strand of a multi-year partnership between UNICEF and ARM and it is an exciting start to a much bigger program we’ll be working on. There are many aims for the Wearables for Good Challenge, but a key one is getting the amateur and professional developer community involved in thinking about new and innovative ways to help people. It is very much in line with other initiatives that ARM is involved in. You may have seen that we have launched a project with the BBC (called the Micro:Bit) in the UK, which will deliver a computer to all British 11 years-olds from October 2015. This is about bringing fully inclusive access to basic computing to an estimated one million children. Education is a vital tool and by teaching children about the technology you are creating a set of individuals who may help solve a growing list of global challenges. That might be delivering efficient infrastructure that preserves valuable resources such as power and water. As mass urbanization becomes an increasing challenge, there are also challenges around pollution and transportation that need to be tackled. In short, there is an almost limitless amount of areas where technological knowledge and innovation can be applied to bring solutions.

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