An English student has designed an incubator for premature babies, intended for use in developing countries. Christened "MOM", it is 90% cheaper than standard incubators.
Neonatal mortality is very high in developing countries and incountries at war. Among other things required to help in such countries, there is a distinct lack of incubators to provide an environment conducive to the survival of premature babies, among other things.
James Roberts, 23, winner of this year's James Dyson Award, tried to solve this problem by designing a useful, light and hygienic incubator comprised of a polyethylene shell and transparent polyurethane inflatable panels: when it is folded up, the incubator takes up very little space and can be sent by ordinary post. Once it has arrived, the panels can be inflated manually and folded back down after use. Christened "MOM", it has, besides the fact that it is inflatable, all the characteristics of a traditional incubator. Ceramic elements slowly diffuse heat, providing constant heating. A system of ventilators and filters provides ventilation. And in the event of jaundice, a phototherapy system can be added to the incubator. Finally, a battery provides twenty-four hours of autonomy in the event of a power cut.
Producing and mailing a MOM should not cost more than € 320, while current incubators cost around € 40,000!
James Roberts received € 37,500 for winning the 2014 International James Dyson Award. He has invested the money into creating various new prototypes designed to reduce costs. Although he was approached by several major players in the medical industry, he has chosen to develop his project by himself in order to be able to send his incubators directly to developing countries by 2017. His wish: "To meet a child saved thanks to the MOM!"