Skip to main content

Inflatable baby incubator called MOM scoops James Dyson Award for 2014

An inflatable incubator for premature babies by the name of MOM has been selected as the winner of the James Dyson Award for 2014.

The invention, which had previously won the Glendenbrook Prize for Innovation from Loughborough University, was invented by a graduate from said university, James Roberts.

The incubator is said to deliver an identical performance to a $45,000 (£28,000) modern incubation system, except it costs less than a tenth of that at $400 (£250), and that includes the cost of testing and transport to its destination. It's also highly portable, and can be collapsed when deflated. MOM has a battery on board with 24 hours of longevity in case of power outages.

The incubator is blown up manually, and features ceramic heating elements to provide warmth, with a display built in showing the temperature and humidity of the environment, which can be adjusted.

It's hoped the device can help prevent deaths of premature babies, as according to the World Health Organisation, 75 per cent of these deaths could be prevented if inexpensive solutions like MOM were available globally.

Related: Dyson Awards announces winners, including a biodegradable fishing net and a home hydroponic system

James Roberts commented: "I was inspired to tackle this problem after watching a documentary on for the high death rate among premature babies in refugee camps. It motivated me to use my design engineering skills to make a difference. Like many young inventors, there have been struggles along the way – I had to sell my car to fund my first prototype! The dream would be to meet a child that my incubator has saved – living proof that my design has made a difference."

There's also a phototherapy lamp on board for babies suffering from Jaundice.

The prize for scooping the award is $45,000 (£28,000), the same as the cost of a modern incubation system, coincidentally. That money will go towards further testing and developing prototypes of MOM, which will hopefully come to fruition as a full product by 2017.