Every hour, 450 low-birthweight babies die in the developing world. Despite mother love and warm blankets, their tiny bodies don’t have enough fat to regulate temperature and protect fragile organs. Outcomes would improve with better access to incubators, but the $20,000 per unit cost, not to mention the need for electricity, makes this an impractical solution for rural villages.

A low-tech alternative incubated on the Stanford University campus is now getting ready to roll out in India, which...

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