OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

The 'Panchayudha' baby monitor

An attempt to transform a traditional gold pendent worn by babies in Sri Lanka into a real child heath monitoring device

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal
34 12

Written by

In no more than 3 sentences, please tell us who your idea is designed for and how it reimagines the new life experience.

The idea is designed for the parents and those who care for the health of babies and children. With the lack of resources and the availability of doctors and midwives in rural areas it is really hard to keep track of the health condition of a new born who is having some sickness. Therefore this newly designed 'panchayudha' smart pendent will monitor the child's health and predict the illnesses and alert the parents and care providers so that they can attend the matters as soon as possible.

[Updated on 05.11.2017 - The prototype]


A sick baby can be the biggest problem that a parent would face. The most precious treasure of any parent is their child and they would do absolutely anything to safeguard their child. Late night cries, regular medical checkups, emergency hospital visits, unexpected high fever in the middle of the night where the nearest hospital is 50km away, spending a fortune on simple medical check ups... Sounds like a nightmare to anyone who care for the new born. Welcome to the day to day life of Sri Lankan parents living in rural areas who are taking care of a sick child.

Arriving at a solution

If there's a way to identify these emergency situations of the baby, before it happens, it can be a relief for the parents because then they can take precautions to avoid any damage happening to the baby.  So how do we keep track of the baby's health and warn the parents if there's something wrong and predict any illness that can occur? What about a wearable for babies that tracks and monitors their health?

The Challenge

When monitoring a baby's health, it is not rocket science to think about a wearable health tracker for babies. You may design a baby fitbit, or a health tracking sock (babies in rural areas of South Asia do not wear socks or caps due to the heat), but will the traditional parents be brave enough to make that decision to attach a wearable electronic device to their child to track the child's health? That is where the problem lies. People are naturally resistant to new things. That is why the wearable that you design should go in line with the beliefs of the parents and the society so that it would be accepted by all.


In South Asia, specially in Sri Lanka, there is a belief that a special gold pendent called 'panchayudha' that babies wear around their neck keeps the babies safe from everything. Similar to Christians wearing a silver cross, the traditional Sri Lankans also make the babies wear a gold pendant embossed with the marks of the ‘Panchayudha’ or the five fold warfare armaments. 

The five armaments are:

  • The sword
  • Bow and arrow
  • The fiery disc known as ‘Chakraudha’
  • The conchshell
  • The ‘thrishoola’ (trident-three speared dagger with a long handle)

(refer the attached image)


Tested with a mother of a 2 year old who actually attached a pendent to her child:

She said,

"This looks cute. It can really alert me if my baby is sick? That sounds great! I would definitely try this if you can assure me that it's 100% safe for my baby"

At what stage is your idea?

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Build a prototype of the device and build a fake app. Let parents attach it to the child and we will send alerts to the parents' and doctors' mobile phone. Let's see whether they like it or not.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I come from a South Asian context and it is hard for me to look at the same problem from a different perspective from a different context. This is where the community can support me to look at the problem in different angles. May be this problem is already solved in a different region in the world in a smarter way. I would like to know about it.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am currently a Senior Business Analyst who designs software solutions for healthcare. I work at a software company that creates EHR and other software related to healthcare in order to improve the life of patients and healthcare providers.

This idea emerged from...

  • An Individual

Are you an expecting, new, or experienced mom?

  • no

Are you a healthcare practitioner?

  • no

Are you a current employee of UCB Pharmaceuticals or Sutter Health?

  • no

How would you describe this idea (in 2-3 sentences) while in an elevator with someone?

A solution that encourages the parents to confidently use technology to monitor and track the health condition of their sick baby by relating the technology to a cultural belief that they all are aware of.

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

Parents in rural areas being less confident about using technology to take care of their sick baby.

How has your idea improved or evolved throughout the Refinement Phase?

I had a mentoring session with Natalia Tsymbalenko, Digital Solutions Consultant at Eastbanc Technologies and with her advice I started investigation on the technical feasibility. I got inspired by the existing solutions and I listed down the sensors that can be used to show that this idea is technically feasible. I wanted to talk with a doctor about this solution so I talked to a few doctors who are friends of mine. They asked me to make sure that the temperature and the heart rate can be captured accurately, otherwise it will trigger false alarms for the parents and they will not be happy about it. I'm still working on it. I wanted to make it look like a day to day wearable of a baby without making it look like another tech gadget. In order to do that I added petals to the device to make it look like a flower and without using a rubber band I let the parents tie it and add a knot so that will give them a sense of caring and responsibility and safety. I went with the idea of making it an ankle band instead of a wrist band because the babies always try to put everything within their reach in their mouth. But I need to check whether accurate information can be captured from the ankle (Big Question) I tested the acceptability of the solution with a mother of a 2 year old, She said, "This looks cute. It can really alert me if my baby is sick? That sounds great! I would definitely try this if you can assure me that it's 100% safe for my baby"

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

I'm going to build a prototype of this solution and introduce it to parents of new born from rural areas who are having a child that needs continuous monitoring and see how my solution would change their lives (or not).

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

Try to find an investor who would invest in this solution so I can produce it and implement it in order to help parents and babies in need.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

There are many baby health monitoring devices available in the market. Socks, t shirts, napkins, etc. But do South Asian babies wear socks? t shirts? napkins? Mostly not! One reason is the heat. The other main reason is that parents are afraid to use technology when it comes to taking care of babies as they find it alien and harmful. My attempt is to break this barrier and bring technology closer to them.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Ganyanjith!

The refinement phase closes on Nov 5 at 3:00pm PST. Please reach out to me if you have any questions at all.

I am tagging Maninder Manihani in case they have some feedback to share.

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal

Hi Kate Rushton 
I'm doing some user tests. I will try my best to update the post with the results tonight. Thanks for supporting me through out this challenge. Really appreciated.

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal

Hi Maninder Manihani , What is your opinion about this solution?

View all comments