A toy for babies and toddlers that registers change in breathing speed.

What is it?

Joko is a toy for babies and toddlers that registers change in breathing speed. Joko looks like a plush bear from the outside, but on the inside it is stuffed with parts of recycled cell phones to monitor the infants breathing speed. It has a double function: through an adaptive toy, toddlers start exploring the world. This can mean a headstart and is crucial for further cognitive development.
The registration and alert of change in breathing speed leads to early diagnosis of pneumonia (fast breathing), malaria (fast breathing), bronchiolitis (fast breathing), sepsis (fast breathing),… When a change of breathing speed is registered, the parents of care takers of the young child are warned. Through Joko they can get further determination of the disease and advise or the prescription of medicines. The breathing speed is detected through an algorithm that filters out ambient sounds and recognises the sound of breath.

Pneumonia, malaria and sepsis rank high in the causes of death among children under 5. Early detection and remote diagnostication can save millions of children each year.

How is it used?

Joko is used as a toy and is carried around everywhere the toddler goes. It sleeps in his or her bed. It is a way of interaction between parents and children. The recording will primarily take place at night, as there are less ambient sounds and Joko will be closer to the toddler’s body.

What technologies does it incorporate?

Joko uses:

– a cell phone microphone: to record the sound of breathing

– a cell phone antenna: to send a warning to the parents in case of fast breathing

– a cell phone processor to analyse the recorded sound and to decide if the breathing speed is considered above average

– Cell phone battery, combined with solar panels

How does it work?

For the child, Joko acts as a non-technological toy. During the child’s interaction with Joko, it records sounds through a microphone of a recycled cell phone. Through an algorithm it filters out breathing noise and calculates the breathing speed. When an abnormal high/low breathing is recorded, Joko sends a signal that is converted to an sms to the parents or care-takers of the child. By answering this text message, the determination and preciser diagnose of the disease starts through simple yes/no questions. After a few text messages the parents/ care-takers receive advise on how to deal with the situation, the severity of the disease and a prescription for medication if applicable.
By simple sound recording, a lot of childrens diseases can be detected early.

Joko, as a toy, functions as a way for the child to play, interact and develop cognitive and motor skills. It is proven (See: context) that interaction with toys and social contact play an important role in the cognitive development of young children. This early stimulation forms, together with nutrition, forms a solid base for further development.

Who uses it?

The main user of Joko, is a young infant, age between 0-5 years when he/she plays with it.The parents/ care takers are also users when they play together with the child or when they receive an alert. Other stakeholders in the Joko service are: distributors who will initialize Joko (connecting it to the parents’ cell phone), medical professionals who provide the information for the text messages.

Why does it help?

Joko lowers the risk of death of young children aged 0-5 years, by monitoring their respiration rate. The respiration rate is a symptom of various diseases such as pneumonia, sepsis, malaria and bronchiolitis. Warning the parents when an increase in respiration rate is measured, the child can be diagnosticated early and be treated in an early stage of the disease. This increases the chance of survival and will decrease child mortality in developing countries.


Team's Location


Team's Occupation


Team Members

Fien Vanderbeke

Focus Area(s)


UNICEF Pillar(s)

Health, Social Inclusion

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.


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