Tech james_roberts_moms_incubator

Published on November 28th, 2014 | by Alex and Brett Harris

James Roberts, Age 23: Built low-cost, inflatable baby incubator

(FOX News) — A recent college graduate in the U.K. has designed a low-cost, inflatable baby incubator for use in the developing world.

The brainchild of 23-year old James Roberts, the MOM system is a collapsible incubator, which can be blown up manually and is heated using ceramic elements. A screen on the device shows temperature and humidity, which can be custom set depending on the baby’s gestation age. The incubator sounds an alarm if the desired temperature changes.

A phototherapy unit is also built into the device for babies suffering from jaundice. Designed to run in areas plagued with power outages, the incubator runs off a battery, which lasts for 24 hours.

On Thursday the incubator won the U.K.’s prestigious James Dyson Award. Industrial design guru James Dyson, founder of the Dyson company, was impressed by the level of innovation shown by the young designer and his team.

“James’ invention shows the impact design engineering can have on people’s lives,” he said, in a statement. “The western world takes incubators for granted — we don’t think about how their inefficient design makes them unusable in developing countries and disaster zones. By bravely challenging convention, James has created something that could save thousands of lives.”

MOM costs just $400 to manufacture, test and transport to the locations where it is needed, significantly less than the $45,000 price tag for a typical incubation system.

As part of the award, Roberts and his team won $45,000 for prototyping and testing, with the goal of eventually mass-producing MOM.

The designer’s alma mater Loughborough University will also receive $15,000 as part of the prize.

Roberts, who sold his car to build the first prototype, was inspired to build the incubator after watching a documentary on the high death rate among premature babies in refugee camps.

“It motivated me to use my design engineering skills to make a difference,” he said, in a statement. “The dream would be to meet a child that my incubator has saved — living proof that my design has made a difference.”

According to the World Health Organization, 75% of deaths resulting from premature birth could be avoided if inexpensive treatments were more readily available across the world.

In addition to Roberts and his team, other organizations are also looking to tackle this problem, such as Embrace, which provides low-cost, life saving incubators in countries like India, Afghanistan and Uganda.

Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!

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Photo courtesy of the James Dyson Foundation.

About the Author

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.

  • alana

    This beyond the word cool and amazing! I believe this can save thousands of lives!

    • And isn’t it amazing to think about how saving even one life could impact so many other lives? =)

      • alana

        I know, right? It’s awesome!

  • Liam

    Wow, that’s very impressive!

  • Jackson A.

    Wow, great job James!

  • Um… What’s an incubator? (I see you all laughing at my overly obvious ignorance…). :)

    • Abby

      An incubator is machine that keeps premature babies warm until they are big enough to produce their own body heat. :)

    • Not laughing. Just trying to remember how I knew what an incubator was…

    • Renee

      Don’t worry I’m not laughing, There’s lots of things I don’t know. :)

      • You know, to be honest, I don’t mind people making fun of me. In fact, I think it’s cool, because they are “making fun” from me. And I find that cool. Now, if someone is trying to be insulting, that’s different. But making fun is all part of getting some good laughs. :)

        • Renee

          Just like the famous Will Rogers.

          • So, I do apologize that my comments like “don’t laugh” are a little misleading. It’s just such a great line! :)

        • Sam S.

          Ask Yoda what an incubator is. Hahahahahahahaha.

  • Emily

    Wow! That’s awesome!

  • Renee

    Great job James!!!

  • I love how teens are the ones making differences in this world. Good job James!! :)

  • Josh A

    I actually just saw this in a magazine and was like “where have I seen this before” lol.

  • Good job, James!

  • gdb

    I’m confused. Why do babies need incubators?

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