It’s pretty amazing the number of things we take for granted here in the “developed world”. Post-natal care is a flagrant example, where a child dying of hypothermia (or other complications) shortly after birth is almost inconceivable, yet is the stark reality facing over 1 million children in developing nations yearly. Incubators go a long way to preventing these deaths, providing pre-term babies with the warmth and humidity control that’s essential for their survival, but they cost about $45,000, an amount so outrageous that it’s inconceivable for many impoverished hospitals. That’s where 23-year-old British student named James Roberts comes in. He designed MOM, an inflatable incubator that cost about $400. It’s designed to pull power from unconventional sources like car batteries and thus keep working in areas with inconsistent power supplies, and provides temperature and humidity controls, as well as special lights for fighting jaundice. It works so well as such a low cost that James recently won the James Dyson Award for Best Invention of the Year and received $45,000 to further develop his prototype into a marketable product.
While many of you reading this won’t directly benefit from James’ invention, it’s always nice to hear about programs like the Dyson Award spurring innovation in today’s youth. As much as we like to think we do, we don’t live in isolation on this planet and the more we do for the less fortunate, the better many of us will be able to sleep at night.