This summer Unicef set the challenge of designing wearable and sensor technology that serves people in resource constrained environments. In the run up to the announcement of the winners on 12th November, we're proud to cover the teams and their prototype wearables, each aiming to make great impact in the fields of health, child abuse prevention, clean water safety and much more.
In the ninth of our series, we interviewed the team behind GuardBand, a system that helps protect children from abuse and observes their health.
In terms of tech for good and child protection, how accessible can the GuardBand be in its reach?
Location tracking technology is common nowadays. The datum is also easy to transmit. The battery is common and economical so it is easily changed. Furthermore, the device is small, light, wearable and is not energy-consuming. It has only one button so it is also easy to use.
What challenges are presented in asking young people to use and engage with the GuardBand, particularly if they are vulnerable or in an abusive situation?
There might be false alarms. The users may not always keep the device within their reach because of its flexibility. Users may not show proper responses when being threatened, e.g being so frightened, they forget to activate the GuardBand.
What is a projected individual example of GuardBand working to its best impact within a year of a potential launch?
The project can make great impact to vulnerable people such as children or the elderly. Children will receive protection from organisations and more children-protecting communities can be established.
What are the solutions to the inevitable international red tape and bureaucracy faced with working on a prototype designed for children? How can these be overcome?
To realise the project, permission from the authorities as well as their cooperation is needed. Moreover, the project may also need some help from telecom corporations. We also will offer the local authority free trial use in a limited area and long term support to gain their trust. To make the product trustworthy, cooperating with institutes, universities and organisations that protect people’s rights are needed to check and verify that the product is ready to be used.
What impact do you project the prototype having for child protection issues in five years’ time should it be the Unicef Wearables winner?
Child abuse would be significantly reduced. Children will be more active toward anything they find dangerous. More communities that care about children could be created so children’s rights can be better preserved.
With the support from Unicef, connections with organisations could be created and we could ask for their local support.