The Bitness Project
The Bitness Project is a creative DIY toolkit for women and girls to learn about their intimate health.
Tell us about your vision for this project: Share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years
By 2023, we aim to 1) bring our Textile Toolkit/local health directory combo to all ten islands of the Cape Verde archipelago, reaching over 50% of the country’s population (youth under 24); 2) begin testing in other Portuguese-speaking African countries; 3) launch an Augmented Reality app to accompany the toolkit and reach a global audience; 4) create a first functioning prototype to transform the toolkit into a remote diagnostics tool with wearable sensors.
Who will implement this idea? Or what’s your strategy to implement in the next 6-18 months?
• Implementation:Bitness team members Teresa (created toolkit; experience in e-textiles, design, woman/centered research); Veronika (experience in startups, app design/development, digital healthcare) with help of contractors and local partnerships
• Production (toolkit): based on feedback received in Cape Verde.
• Toolkit pilot: Led through partnership with local organizations Womenizeit, SelfCare, CVTelecom
• Digital component (Local health professionals resource site: up & running, AR app to accompany toolkit-first prototype): design/development by Bitness and 1PT developer (track record of working with Veronika at another startup).
How has your idea changed based on feedback?
The original Toolkit idea has evolved based on feedback from participants in workshops, data analysis, continuing presentations in multiple contexts. OpenIDEO’s feedback really pushed us to think about the specific logistics: choosing site, local partnerships, as well as scaling the project both on the ground and digitally. During the short period of refinement we took a giant leap from academic research to figuring out the steps and timeframe for bringing the project into a real world setting.
Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?
HCD forms the backbone of this idea from the very beginning, and feedback from potential users has been critical in shaping it over time. Operating in the framework of “how the solution can help” rather than “what it is/ how polished it looks” moved the project forward; that HCD approach applies not only when listening to users and iterating accordingly, but also on how we interact as a team between ourselves, who owns which parts, which collaborators and partners we chose, how we set our goals.
How long have you been working on the project?
What year was your organization or group started?
How many full time staff are needed to implement your idea?
What most attracted you to the UNFPA Young People's Sexual and Reproductive Health Challenge?
Bitness was founded on passion for humanistic approaches to designing technologies that support socio-cultural change and break taboos; with a focus on empowering women and girls, a commitment that aligns with UNFPA’s mission. The opportunity to work with UNFPA’s support and recognition at such an early stage is pivotal to help creating solid and meaningful relationships within countries where limited SRH education and rights continue to impact girls and women’s lives deeply.
Share the URL for your Business Model Canvas Here
URL for the Business Model Canvas:
Opportunity Areas – Select those that apply
Last Mile Sexual and Reproductive Health Commodities
What specific problem(s) are you trying to address? (300 character limit)
Education and preventative care in pelvic awareness: The pelvic floor in women is crucial for SRHR, as it impacts sexuality and reproduction. Knowledge of the pelvic floor among women and girls is limited, and for the most part only heard about briefly during pregnancy or after childbirth.
Silk screen pattern of standard pelvic floor in women (illustration). Setting: workshop.
What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address? (500 character limit)
Designing for societal challenges: Limited understanding of the body and lack of access to intimate health information perpetuate stigma and taboo, misinformation, and continued practices that are harmful to women and girls.
Learning devices: The lack of education and the limited educational resources and its contents impact women and girls’ health across the lifecourse. My goal is to find solutions that can include novel approaches/designs that promote sociocultural change.
Who are your end users? (1000 character limit)
The main target are women and girls aged 10+, young people whose resources and access to information are limited. The toolkit will also be a valuable aid for health and community workers, community centers, and NGOs.
Explain your idea. (500 character limit)
The Bitness Project includes a series of tools that uses interactive imagery and a do-it-yourself piece of underwear. This pattern (DIY underwear) is the main educational tool: topics of intimate health and care can be unravelled as it is hand-sewn/assembled; situated on the body to reflect directly on bodily issues. Girls get a – sometime much needed - extra piece of underwear.
Further along, the Bitness Project aims to integrate a mobile app to augment the underwear textiles.
Body mapping exercise to understand the reproductive system (left); adding knowledge of pelvic organs (right).
What is your value proposition? (500 character limit)
The project proposes a personal and intimate tool (DIY underwear) that aims to transform the way pelvic fitness is assimilated into a healthy lifestyle and in a timely fashion; importantly, prior to e.g. pregnancy or incontinence. It is both a catalyst for conversation/information, e.g can be passed from mother to daughter/ between friends/health workers in community centers/schools.
The toolkit is a playful product that promotes learning in a fun and self-caring way.
What's different about your idea compared to current solutions? (500 character limit)
A creative toolkit has previously been deployed in a series of hands-on research workshops about pelvic fitness in women and girls (research attached). It explored innovative approaches in smart textiles as material for health and wellbeing; possibilities for wearables to encourage healthier lifestyles. Here, I continue pushing forward these innovative approaches. To my knowledge, there are no similar initiatives or solutions at the moment.
Using e-textiles to guide and assemble a flat pattern of the female pelvic floor muscles and/with underwear.
What are the key reasons why end users would turn to your organization over another?
Newness: Satisfying a new set of needs
What would success look like for your end users? (500 character limit)
Long-term, the outcome of this project can have a significant impact on lives, trusting that bodily education with an emphasis on SRHR is fundamental and has the potential to, e.g, increase women’s chances of pursuing school and breaking out of poverty, therefore making progress towards gender equality.
How would you measure the impact your idea has on your end user(s) ? How will you measure the success of your program? (500 character limit)
This solution will help educate and empower women and girls in a wide variety of contexts worldwide to learn more about SRHR and take better care of their pelvic health. Quantitative approaches to use and distribution can include surveys, more in-depth measures to include field data.
What strategies will/are you testing to acquire end users? (300 character limit)
Research network and online/offline product PR. Personal research network to reach out to health workers and community leaders in varied countries (Global South); pilots with local refugee community (Sweden).
Key partnerships - Who will you partner with to make your idea work? (500 character limit)
I am in search of an underwear designer/service interested in women’s health and care, for example, menstrual health management (MHM), who would be interested in collaborating with this project.
What is your organization’s name? (150 character limit)
Where will your idea be implemented? (200 character limit)
Starting in Sweden, where I will be based from January 2018 on. Product to quickly reach the Global South via personal network of research, e.g countries to include: Egypt, Cape Verde, India.
What do you need to get started? (500 character limit)
Human and financial resources.
What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?
Community - one or a few communities within one country
Experience in Implementation Country(ies)
Yes, for more than one year.
Expertise in Sector
I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.
Organization Location (200 character limit)
Bitness is registered in the UK. Team/existing collaborators: Sweden, Portugal, New York, USA.
What is your organizational status?
We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).
What is the maturity of your innovation?
Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.
Original toolkit (documentation): http://www.banhomaria.net/intimatecare/DesignKit/index.html