SoaPen is 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.
SoaPen Team Information
Where are you based? Where are each of you from/where did you grow up?
Amanat and Shubham grew up in New Delhi, India, Yogita in Mumbai, India, and Junho grew up in Seoul, South Korea and the United States. We met while pursuing our Bachelor of Fine Art with a focus in Industrial design at Parsons School of Design, New York. Our shared belief in the potential of good design to bring a positive change in the world, kept us together in New York for the summer of 2015 to collaborate for the Wearables for Good Challenge. Currently Amanat and Shubham reside in Brooklyn New York while Yogita is spending some time in Mumbai and Junho has plans to move back to Los Angeles.
What does SoaPen do?
SoaPen is a teaching tool in the form of a soap-crayon, which promotes the habit of handwashing among school children between the ages of 3-6. Teachers and parents can use it to draw or write on a child’s skin, marking out the critical cleaning areas on the child’s hand, which the child will then enthusiastically wash off with the visually clear reward of unmarked hands. Essentially it aims to make handwashing a habit through making it fun.
The SoaPen device is also supported by a free mobile app that provides teachers with innovative techniques to incorporate personal hygiene using soap into the existing academic curriculum.
What is the problem SoaPen helps to solve?
SoaPen aims to educate parents about the importance and need of handwashing. It provides them with a tool to encourage children to wash their hands with soap correctly and regularly by making the activity fun, engaging and rewarding. Every year millions of children die of infections such as diarrhea and pneumonia . This disastrous fact can be rectified by adopting the simple habit of washing their hands with soap, especially at several key occasions during the day such as; before eating, after coughing/sneezing or playing outdoors or using the toilet and while bathing.
How did you hear about the challenge and what inspired you to enter?
We entered this collaboration right after graduating from Parsons to explore our interest in social innovation; Wearables for Good provided the perfect initial guidelines for our first non-academic creative endeavor! The WASH aspect from the handbook really moved us. The fact that so many lives could be saved just by encouraging handwashing was a novel idea and it dictated our design ideation.
What was the toughest challenge you faced and how did you deal with it?
While reading the handbook, we were equally moved by all the problems that it presented. After a week of research in each area, we decided to focus on WASH. We thought that addressing the issues WASH presented was a stepping-stone towards bringing to light other grave issues that surround communities. We aimed to create an object that would educate parents about the need for hand washing, irrespective of their literacy level. Further, we wanted to present an enjoyable and rewarding activity to create a behavioral change amongst children. Another constraint was to make a product that is very simple, to promote local manufacturing, and to be informative yet intuitive in its use, allowing people to adopt it with ease.
What do you feel the next phase of the challenge, working with industry mentors, will bring to your design?
Working with industry mentors will greatly help us test the viability of SoaPen and help us detect and overcome its immediate shortfalls. We’re working on developing a soap that can leave a mark on the skin without harming it and yet wash off with ease, while having a simple production technique. We’re hoping the expert mentorship will help us realise a practical and economical development, production and manufacturing process which will hopefully involve and empower the local communities as much as possible.
What other projects are you working on? We are eager to know!
- Amanat assists in the production and fabrication of custom furniture and objects for a Brooklyn-based interior design company.
- Shubham is exploring her interest in sustainable farming practices and the intersection of food and design.
- Junho has taken some time out to document his portfolio and feed his product curiosity by opening up and reassembling any products he can lay his hands on.
- Yogita is in Mumbai doing field research for taking forward her thesis project Jhoule, a motion powered kinetic generator for off-grid villages in Chhattisgarh, India.