MOM, an inflatable incubator, and winner of the 2014 James Dyson Award
January 19, 2015 3:02 PM   Subscribe

The annual James Dyson Award is open to current and recent design engineering students. The winner this year is James Roberts with his inflatable incubator MOM. The device costs around £250 compared to £30,000 for modern incubators and could prevent up to 75% of fatalities in premature birth cases in the developing world.
posted by shimmerbug (13 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Its use needn't be limited to developing world scenarios," said consultant paediatrician Steve Jones. "I could see it being used in the UK to support community midwifery units, or following home births."

Excellent. And maybe even some hospitalized premature infants could go home early. Way better than the shoebox next to the wood stove my grandfather got!
posted by resurrexit at 3:12 PM on January 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Impressive - - here's to deflating infant mortality rates!
posted by fairmettle at 3:28 PM on January 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is the sort of thing i hoped to see from the ridiculously plummeting costs of electronics and manufacturing.

Medical devices in particular always seem like an utter racket. I understand the requirements for testing and such, but quite a lot of the reason a normal one costs £30,000 seems to be handwavium, pocket lining, and everyone taking their troll toll at every step of the way from components suppliers on up.

My work has a bagging machine that's also sold for packaging medical equipment. It's robotic, and complex. It cost a fuckton of money, but the version that's actually certified to bag medical stuff costs like 3x as much because...???

It's made of the same materials, it's all stainless and capable of being sterilized and etc etc. This shit needs to end. It's just like hospitals billing insurance like 10x and then no one ever paying that much, or billing individuals a huge amount they're instantly willing to settle for a fraction on.
posted by emptythought at 3:40 PM on January 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


+!
posted by Oyéah at 4:13 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Love to see what a brilliant mind and a dedicated heart can do together. I'm happy he got the Dyson Award and the recognition and probable funding that will come with it so these incubators may become available worldwide. It seems as though they'd take up little space and so could be shipped/flown in multiples to places they're needed - a significant improvement over trying to transport regular incubators.

Good job - good news!
posted by aryma at 4:16 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


It cost a fuckton of money, but the version that's actually certified to bag medical stuff costs like 3x as much because...???

...legal fees and certification. It's not an easy task, and it unfortunately adds significant overhead to development costs. A company I consult for was looking into this field (thinking we could undercut the competition), but it was not worth the tremendous investment, especially for such a low unit device.
posted by Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra at 4:23 PM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Huh. I know some folks who made a portable incubator, specifically for use in Brazilian favelas.

Hopefully, the universal good that is IP law won't turn it into a total cluster.
posted by underflow at 4:48 PM on January 19, 2015


This is a great design, just needs Paul Simon to write a song about the Boy in the Bubble Toaster Oven.
posted by arcticseal at 7:46 PM on January 19, 2015


I really hate that my initial interpretation of the phrase "inflatable incubator" was a Bouncy Castle for tech startups...

Sharks, I'm seeking $100k for 10% of the business.
posted by goHermGO at 8:36 PM on January 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Legal fees and certification are high, but not the major drivers of the price. Many of these manufacturers have extremely high profit margins. One of the first rules of price theory is that costs have very little impact on what you can charge for a service. In this case manufacturers have no reason to lower prices. Doctors and hospitals tend to standardize and this naturally creates a small number of vendors. The demand for incubators demand inelastic, meaning that unit sales do not change much relative to the price. The result is that these manufacturers end up ridiculously high margins. The ACA is attempting to reign this in with a tax on medical devices.
posted by humanfont at 10:34 PM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


emptythought: Medical devices in particular always seem like an utter racket.
Quoted for truth. Especially in the US, where per-patient revenue (#1 in the world) is clearly far more important than effectiveness of treatment (38th in the world).
posted by IAmBroom at 9:50 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Legal fees and certification are high, but not the major drivers of the price. Many of these manufacturers have extremely high profit margins.

I agree entirely -- it's a racket. There isn't enough competition in the field to drive prices lower, so it's effectively an oligopoly. At least part of the reason is the high barrier to entry (the legal fees and medical device cert.), even if that cost is eventually spread across all units. This is by design -- it keeps negligent engineering off the hospital floor. We need a balance between thorough regulation/oversight versus enabling newer companies to enter the field.

The ACA is attempting to reign this in with a tax on medical devices.

My understanding was that was a correction mechanism to dissuade the industry from benefiting from mandatory insurance. I suspect those taxes go into the fund that provides financial assistance for insurance, which while it helps people cope with added health insurance costs, it is an indirect way of subsidizing the very industry it's supposed to reign in. If part of that fund were redirected to small companies trying enter the field (via a tax break or legal support), it would go a long way to lowering prices and hopefully saving people money.
posted by Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra at 10:27 AM on January 20, 2015


I bought a vacuum designed by the award guy. It's mostly cheap plastic shit, but I like that I don't need to buy bags for it.

Oh, and yay for the incubator.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 1:09 AM on January 21, 2015


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