A wearable and portable soap re-designed to encourage hand washing amongst young children to reduce the risk of catching and spreading disease thereby increasing their lifespan.
What is it?
SoaPen, a soap-crayon, promotes the habit of washing hands with soap among children of the impressionable age of 3-6 years. We aim to reduce infant mortality rates by preventing the spread of infectious illnesses through behavioral change.
How is it used?
Being markable on skin, it is used for drawing on a child’s dry hands. When children wet and rub their hands, the drawing lathers- the goal of colourless hands, prompts them to thoroughly wash hands for the ideal 20-40 seconds. Teachers can apply SoaPen to a child’s hands within the classroom and effortlessly ensure desired level of sanitation by checking ,after the hand wash, that the child’s hands are mark free. A supporting website provides ideas such as downloadable posters to incorporate SoaPen into the curriculum, to reach far and wide. SoaPen taps into a two-directional awareness flow: Children learn how to wash their hands in schools, take their knowledge home and share it with parents. It fulfills the 3 “R”s of habit formation: Reminder: The physical presence of SoaPen in the classroom; Routine: The SoaPen website suggests innovative ways of using SoaPen daily; Reward: joy of unmarked hands.
What technologies does it incorporate?
SoaPen is an analog self sufficient product. It requires technology only in its making. We aim to develop a soap that leaves a colored mark on one’s skin when dry but lathers and washes away when rubbed upon with water.
How does it work?
SoaPen is like a crayon wrapped in a tight roll of paper. The exterior ‘shell’ can be peeled to reveal the soap as the user makes use of it daily. The soap will be markable on the skin, as this will make it convenient for the parent to indicate critical cleaning areas. The child will also enthusiastically engage in handwashing- awaiting the very visually clear reward of unmarked hands. The packaging paper will also have illustrations that inform the parent about those critical areas and how to make hand washing a fun familial activity.
Who uses it?
SoaPen will initially be introduced to children aged 2 to 3 years by their parents who would use it as an educational toy to teach proper hand washing technique. The parents would, as the packaging will also indicate, mark out the important areas to be cleaned like fingertips, spaces between the fingers, and of course the palm. This will ensure proper hygiene habits become a part of their childhood. We all realized that we each had a unique style of washing our hands the way our parents taught us when we were young; making us realize that for SoaPen to be successful, it needed to be incorporated in the familial arena. In the spirit of it being an educational object, SoaPen can also be introduced in schools at the tender age of 3 to 5 years when children are quite easily influenced.
Why does it help?
Over 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die annually from infectious illnesses such as diarrhea. The simple habit of washing hands with soap at key times daily can help reduce this number by half. SoaPen aims to educate teachers, parents and students about the importance and need of handwashing. SoaPen encourages children to wash their hands with soap correctly and regularly by making the activity fun, engaging and rewarding.
How did the Incubation Program help you shape and grow your idea?
The 4 month incubation program put together by the UNICEF Innovation team was incredibly rewarding. During this programme, we were mentored to think about SoaPen holistically; from improving the user experience to building a business. We received invaluable design advice from the frog design team, marketing inputs from ARM, guidance from multiple experts from UNICEF Innovation, a web developer from Andela as well as legal support from Cooley to incorporate as a business. We shared our progress with the mentors on our weekly calls and also had the fortune of working alongside them in person in San Francisco. Having access to such a wide network of specialists would have been impossible for us at such an early idea stage of the business without the UNICEF Wearables for Good Challenge. SoaPen has grown from an concept sketch to a fully functional prototype.
What is the long term vision now for SoaPen?
Our goal has always been to try and reach as many hands as fast as possible. SoaPen’s biggest strength lies in awareness & habit formation. Projecting the increase in internet penetration among low-income rural and urban communities, we hope our website will help train teachers about the importance of handwashing with soap even in the absence of health workers. The simple design is scalable and low-cost. The materials and manufacturing techniques can be localised for any part of the world allowing the product to reach far and wide. We hope to see SoaPen promote good hygiene practices and health education in communities across the globe.
India & Korea
Amanat Anand, Junho Byun, Shubham Issar, Yogita Agrawal
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
These pages have been pulled directly from applications submitted to the Wearables for Good Challenge in 2015. They represent the work of the individual teams and have subsequently not been edited.