Meet Flo
When living in poverty, girls beginning the transition into puberty can face difficult challenges. Due to being unable to access affordable sanitary items, many young girls have to use reusable menstrual pads, and the process is often time-consuming and dangerously unsanitary. The lack of access to cheap and affordable sanitary products is a scary thought for many women, and for these young girls, it has consequences beyond hygiene.

In many countries with extreme poverty there are stigmas against puberty for women, and many young girls fear their menstrual cycle and will drop out of school in order to hide at home. The students from the Art Center College of Design created a solution to this problem.

Meet “Flo”, an invention that allows young women living in extreme poverty a multi-purpose device for more effectively dry, sanitary and discreetly concealed reusable menstrual pads. Flo was created by the James Dyson Foundation, which released a video explaining how the device makes periods safer and less disruptive to young women’s lives.

On the website, the James Dyson Foundation talks about what makes Flo so unique. A statement released states, “Girls will have access to dry, clean pads that can reduce illness and will be more comfortable, both physically and emotionally. Girls will be able to work around their menstrual cycle and be in control…By having control over their menstrual cycle, girls do not have to give up their dreams and can be empowered to pursue what they want to become.”

Elizabeth Steadman

Sources: GOOD, Metro, James Dyson Award,
Photo: Flickr

The main focus of the James Dyson Award is on design and engineering, but there is also encouragement and support given to medical and scientific research to bring great change. The organization itself has donated over $14 million to these causes through grants, machine donations and fundraising endeavors led by the people at Dyson.

The James Dyson Award is aimed towards young people from 18 countries who think differently than others and come up with ideas to change the future. “Whatever the design, as long as it solves a problem, it’s got a chance of winning the James Dyson Award,” its website reads.

Along with the recognition, a $45,000 prize is given to the international winner to help take the idea from a prototype and launch it into a commercial product. The winner for this year’s award goes to a product called the inflatable baby incubator. The inventor is a Loughborough University graduate by the name of James Roberts. The project overall is called and referred to as “MOM” and is said to cost a fraction of the price of other alternatives currently in the market.

With the award money, Roberts is planning on continuing the project and perfecting it to bring to the market in 2017. The remarkable thing about this project is that it is delivered as a flat package to wherever its destination may be. The product is meant to be assembled at the site where it will be used. The inflatable incubator is a sheet of plastic that contains inflatable panels that can be blown up manually and heated by a ceramic element, which then keeps the newborn baby warm. When opened, it will stay open and not collapse on the baby. An Arduino computer keeps the temperature at a stable heat and also controls the humidification, a lamp and an alarm.

This product is huge step in taking care of infants, because it is safe for the baby and costs a lot less. Other incubators cost more because shipping the incubator requires large boxes. This incubator as mentioned above, ships flat and is easy to assemble once it is received.

The main purpose of this incubator is to decrease the number of premature child deaths within refugee camps. According to the MOM Incubator website, “Every year, an estimated 150,000 child births occur within refugee camps. Of these child births, 27,500 will die due to lack of sufficient incubation.”

Moving forward, the plans for MOM include using the money to perfect the prototypes and, if needed, doing a possible redesign to gain the best possible outcome for an inflatable incubator system.

– Brooke Smith

Sources: MOM Incubators, BBC, James Dyson Foundation
Photo: Flickr