B'luru-made baby warmer that needs no electricity

B'luru-made baby warmer that needs no electricity

A city-based start-up, Embrace Innovations, has made a baby warmer that functions as an incubator even in remote villages without electricity.

What is even more unique with this baby warmer is that it costs Rs 15,000, much cheaper than the traditional incubators priced at about Rs 1 lakh apiece.

The man behind the invention of the low-cost baby warmer, Rahul Panicker, was recently recognised by MIT Technology Review for his contribution. It also named him in the global list of 35 innovators under 35 years of age.

Launched in 2012, the baby warmers have already made a name both at home and abroad. While the Government of Karnataka has installed them at 50 per cent of primary health centres in the State, the baby warmers have also helped over 2 lakh newborns survive in 15 countries in West Asia, Africa, China and Latin America.

The idea of making the baby warmer came to Panicker, an alumnus of IIT Madras, during a class project in Stanford, where he went for his post-graduation and doctoral studies.

He noted that in India every year, 25-30 per cent of babies are born with low birthweights and unable to maintain the body temperature.

During a field trip to India, he noticed that in many government hospitals, incubators were being used as file cabinets as the staff members did not know how to operate them. The irregular electricity supply in semi-urban and rural areas also made them dysfunctional.

So, Panicker wanted to build a product which would be cheap and easy to use in conditions typically found in the developing countries.

He, hence, developed a baby warmer with three components—a sleeping bag, a pouch made of phase-change material and a heater to warm the pouch, which works with or without electricity. Panicker’s baby warmer also does not separate the infant from its mother, unlike the traditional incubators.

The young innovator also said that inspired by the explosive growth of Facebook and Google, he wanted to set up a company which could replicate their success in the social sector. He set up Embrace Innovations in Bengaluru in 2009.

Dr Chetan Ginigeri, chief paediatric, PeopleTree Hospitals here, told Deccan Herald: “It is a very cost-effective device which maintains the baby’s body temperature. It does not overheat unlike the traditional device. The device is a very simple one and anyone can use it without any technical knowledge.”

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