Bangles have been one of the oldest forms of accessories, consistently appearing through the pages of history. Its origin being as early as the 2600 BC, only modified to fit into different fabric of the cultural context. What may have started during the settlement of Mohenjo-Daro still persists in the Asian subcontinent, bangles adorning the women in Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan.
A bangle stands for lots of things; it could be used as a token of blessing to mark the beginning of the journey taken by two souls; it could be seen as a father’s love for her little girl, buying few dozen glass bangles in plethora of colors, on his way home after a hard day's work; it could also stand for a fashion statement, made by a modern girl, a trendy accessory that goes perfectly with her attire, no intrinsic value attached with the mere piece.
To add on to the list, Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd (GISB) has designed a beautiful bangle, ornately crafted, keeping the traditional patterns in mind. However, this is no traditional bangle. Called the COEL, this smart bangle, comprised of durable plastic, weighs 38 grams and it helps to keep track of maternal well-being.
An innovation where aesthetics meets functionality, COEL is an acronym for Carbon Monoxide Exposure Limiter. It is a 0.8 inches wide wearable device that reminds pregnant women to visit the doctor, inform them about vaccination appointments, reveal the details as to how to handle cramps and convulsions, provide advice on the proper diet and nutrition and information about the growth of the baby growing inside its mother’s womb.
WHO states that 4.3 million people a year die from the exposure to household air pollution; it not only poses a threat to the lives of the pregnant women but also to the lives of their babies, putting them at risks even before they are born, especially for the rural cohorts who use traditional mud stoves and open fires for cooking. COEL alerts mothers when there are in the presence of carbon monoxide, asking them to go back to somewhere safer. This simple yet brilliant design can run for 10 months without the need for charging, and can operate without the use of internet, programmed with 80 different voice messages in 80 languages that can guide women during their pregnancy. Even though COEL is not available commercially, it has been distributed to 500 women in Bangladesh. The current model of the bangle only comes in one size, which needs to be addressed to cater to more women in the future.
While a bangle may represent many things, COEL is a symbol for hope for the rural mothers. A hope of bringing their unborn children into this world.