Karakoram wins United Nations Global Innovator award for COVID-19 Tech.

Karakoram Innovation, an award-winning global developmental innovation consultancy, is proud to receive the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)’s 2020 Global Innovator Award in recognition of the development of ‘Project Theia.‘ This low-cost platform uses clinical sensors and ultra-long distance IoT radio’s to build an emergency real-time health data layer in developing countries, routing health workers where they are most needed.

The UNDP Global Innovator Award is open to all hardware and software developers, product designers, scientists, hackers, makers, innovators, and inventors to develop innovative ideas to cost-efficiently support COVID-19 response efforts in developing countries. The challenge focused on creating open-source technologies that developing countries can leverage to fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Karakoram’s ‘Project Theia’ addresses the problem that many developing countries with minimal healthcare infrastructure often have disrupted (or substandard) telecommunication networks and insufficient real-time health data. If available, this real-time health data layer would allow for even a modest national health service to more intelligently route their workers to more effectively triage the pandemic at a national level.

To address this, Theia collects real-time, on-the-ground contactless body temperature information using custom-built contactless smart thermometers. These devices send the data to bespoke independent self-hosting data collection Hubs using ultra-long-distance IoT LoRa radios. The collected data is interpreted, analyzed, and served by the Hub (or multiple hubs), giving countries a functional, abet limited, real-time emergency health data layer to more intelligently deploy their health services more effectively than before.

The Theia thermometer incorporates multiple temperatures sensor readings to ensure accuracy and ease of manufacture on the ground. While a fever is not indicative of COVID-19, with several unrelated reasons that a person might have a heightened body temperature, there are psychological group benefits to checking for elevated temperatures of those going in and out of public markets, government buildings, and meeting areas. However, a sudden shift in the mean average temperature of a community body temperature would be an interesting metric for an outbreak of a highly infectious disease such as COVID-19. By looking for abrupt changes in the mean average body temperature of a village or community, the dashboard can automatically notify the national health service to deploy as needed.

The UNDP Global Centre Singapore is now working with Country Offices and partner tech companies to meet the needs of countries and regions with a lack of resources where Theia could have significant impacts. Karakoram is honored to continue our partnership with the United Nations and excited to begin field trials of our platform soon.


Josh Thomas, Founder & CEO of Karakoram Innovation, said: “The United Nations continues to be the most important curator of unsolved innovation challenges on earth. I’m proud and humbled for Karakoram to be involved in answering such a critical innovation challenge in developing countries during this COVID-19 crisis.

Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, said: “This challenge is trying to address the needs and realities of communities aiming to drive micro innovation at a global level.

Bradley Busetto, Director of UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation, and Sustainable Development, said in regards to the challenge: “I think it’s a new way of democratizing and accelerating innovation in a time of crisis.” 

Press Photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rmdxpuapuy2azyf/AADJHoASaW1Cr9MLyJAL8j5Sa?dl=0

About Karakoram:

Karakoram is an award-winning global developmental innovation consultancy that disrupts conventional thinking and builds solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.

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