According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 4 million women and children die annually due to indoor gas exposure. Most families in rural parts of countries like India and Bangladesh, use wood as fuel for their daily cooking. The smoke released, contains dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide, which ends up being one of the leading causes of miscarriage and death. Grameen Intel believed that a smart, wearable device could offer a timely intervention that could help save the lives of a large number of these pregnant women and children from carbon monoxide poisoning. In many villages, it is even considered taboo for women to use technology. One of the main cultural hurdles would be to encourage rural women to accept, trust, and consistently wear a smart device.
Instead of trying to convince rural women of the benefits of using a smart device, we decided to present the technology as something they were intimately familiar with and loved to wear every day - jewelry. The COEL - short for carbon monoxide emission limiter - smart bangle embeds an advanced CO sensor and LED lights inside a beautiful piece of jewelry. The LED's flash and an audible voice informs the mother when carbon monoxide levels in the room are dangerous. This allows her to move outside while the air clears. COEL also provides the mother with over eighty prerecorded pregnancy wellness messages - guiding her throughout her term. The device lasts for ten months without the need to recharge. The COEL bangle has received overwhelming positive acceptance and has even been compared to a ‘trusted friend’.
Human factor studies of wrist sizes allowed us to determine the ideal diameter for the bangle that would accommodate the most number of women's writs. The size of the bangle needed to be as compact as possible while still being able to house all the internal hardware. This included an advanced CO sensor, flex cables connecting multiple PCBs, LED lights, a speaker, and a large enough Li-ion battery to last ten months on a single charge. The challenge lay in creating a compact design that would be visually balanced. In order for the bangle to have a delicate aesthetic, we created a beltline to break the volume down. Above the beltline, on the primary visible portion of the bangle, we designed an iconic 3-dimensional herringbone pattern. We wanted the women to look forward to wearing this device for its decorative appeal. This would result in regular use, benefiting them and their child.
The COEL bangle design developed over many rounds of iteration and refinement. Some of the initial concepts were designed to closely resemble intricate jewelry. This created an opportunity to showcase the beautiful detail found in jewelry from south-east Asian countries. We later decided to simplify the product in order to reduce manufacturing cost and create a neutral platform for an interchangeable graphical label. This would allow the product to have periodic design refreshments and adapt to cultural differences around the world without additional tooling costs.