Humans do not have kangaroo pouches, and it's a fact that society laments when babies are premature -- especially in developing countries. Over 450 low-birthweight and premature infants die each hour from hypothermia, and at a cost of around $20,000, modern incubators. There is a strong need for a low-cost method of keeping babies warm and alive.
Enter the Infant Warmer from the social enterprise Embrace Global, an innvoative miniature sleeping bag (or replacement marsupial pouch) that will cost less than $200. Made from a wax-filled heating pad ensheathed in nylon, the product can keep the baby warm for four to six hours, then reheated in either an electric warmer or, if electricity is unavailable, in a water warmer for 20 minutes.
Born two years ago from the well-known Stanford class Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability>, offered through both the Graduate School of Business and the Mechanical Engineering Department, the Infant Warmer is currently in its final stages of product development and is slated for distribution in India later this year. India will be their first goal, as 40% of the world's low-weight babies are born there; then, they intend to expand to Asia and Africa. A trial at the Packard Hospital in Palo Alto is also planned for next year as an alternative to the traditional rows of plastic incubators, allowing mothers to stay closer to their premature infants.
Tiffany Chu is a designer and blogger based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. With a background in architecture and comparative media studies from MIT, Tiffany has a broad span of design experience including work for Pixar Animation Studios, h2o architectes in Paris,Â The New Orleans Office of Recovery,Â design/build in Cambodia, and field research on street vendors in Vietnam. By day, she currently works as an associate at the design and innovation consultancy, Continuum. By night, she dilly-dallies in internet culture, cartography, hot yoga, and dreams up design-entrepreneurial schemes.