Inflatable incubator design wins James Dyson Award

The device, which costs just $400, has the same features as a modern incubation system costing $45,000

By Rajit Sengupta
Published: Thursday 06 November 2014

Photo credit: James Dyson Award

British graduate James Roberts has bagged the prestigious James Dyson Award for his low-cost, inflatable incubator design for premature babies. The incubator, called MOM, can be collapsed for transportation and can run on a battery for 24 hours in case of power outages.

“I was inspired to tackle this problem after watching a documentary on the high death rate among premature babies in refugee camps. The dream would be to meet a child that my incubator has saved – living proof that my design has made a difference,” says Roberts, who is just 23 years old.

He adds that the product can be used in developing and under-developed countries, where 75 per cent of premature births could be avoided if inexpensive treatments were readily available.

The incubator is blown up manually and is heated using ceramic heating elements. A screen shows the current temperature and humidity levels which can be custom set. It also has an alarm which will sound if the desired temperature changes. The low-cost incubator has a phototherapy unit for babies suffering from jaundice.

While a modern incubation system costs $45,000, MOM costs just $400 to manufacture, test and transport to the desired location.

Robert and his team from Loughborough University in England will receive $45,000 for testing the prototype with a view to ultimately seeing MOM being mass-produced. The university will also receive $15,000 for the project.

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