Skip to main content

Wearables for Good challenge looks to help the underprivileged through tech

Huawei wearables 4
Simon Hill/Digital Trends
Wearables such as the Apple Watch and Fitbit may seem like trivial toys for the wealthy, but the new contest Wearables for Good is looking to harness the power of this technology to help the poor and underprivileged in developing nations. In a joint effort headed by the UN agency UNICEF and the U.K. chip company ARM, designers are being challenged to develop wearable tech ideas that will aid in health and education efforts for the millions across the world without access to these basic human rights. Joining them is the San Francisco-based strategy and design company Frog, along with representatives from Google, Orange, Singularity University, the Red Cross, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s SENSEable City Lab.

The project seeks to distill the basic advantage of wearables — an easy and quick access point to vital information like pregnancy tracking or a sensor that counts breaths per minute to warn of early stage pneumonia. Alternatively, these devices could be used as emergency alert systems, notifying wearers of impending dangers or risks in environments where communication capacities are often limited.

Applications are currently being accepted on the Wearables for Good website, and following the August 4 deadline, two winners will ultimately be selected in the fall. The prize package will include $15,000 and consultations with experts from partners Frog, Google, and others on the development and implementation of the best ideas.

Speaking with Wareable, Denise Gershbein, executive creative director at Frog, noted, “there are countless opportunities for wearable and sensor technology to make more of an impact in emerging markets, particularly in the next wave of social impact development. With the ‘Wearables for Good’ challenge we hope to foster dialogue among new partners and increase cross-discipline innovation.”

Erica Kochi, co-founder of UNICEF Innovation, the branch of the organization that leverages technology to achieve the agency’s goals, told The New York Times, “We’re looking for entries that are scalable and sustainable. We don’t want something that is a neat idea, but there’s no marketplace for it.” And this marketplace will be a tricky one — geography, resources, and culture will have to be taken into account to ensure that the developed devices are actually useful for their users.

It’s an ambitious project, to be sure, but UNICEF has already taken many of the necessary steps to help ease the process, Kochi said. The agency has already begun establishing relationships with governments, while corporate partners are implementing the groundwork for the actual development of the products. As Simon Segars, chief executive of ARM, told the Times, “The cost of innovation is the lowest it’s ever been,” which makes now the perfect time to strike for social good.

Editors' Recommendations

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more