I don’t have any change but I want Change: contactless payment for homeless donations

Problem: Cities around the world have a growing homeless population who survive on donations from passers-by. In many cases, these donations are used for drugs or alcohol rather than for basic necessities like food and clothing, sparking debate between those who donate their change to the homeless, and those who do not. The homelessness problem encompasses civic engagement, health and safety, waste management and a host of other sustainability problems. For those who do donate, it is become less common to carry cash meaning that often they would like to donate change, but do not have any on them.

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Solution: ‘Helping Heart’ contactless payment jacket

  • An Amsterdam-based company, N=5, has come up with the concept to make homeless donations more feasible in a modern city, but also to monitor their use.
  • The jacket has an in-built contactless payment reader and LCD screen, set to a cap of EUR 1 per donation.
  • The wearer can then redeem the value of the donations from participating stores and shelters in the form of food, clothing, shelter and other essentials.
  • There are also options to direct payments towards vocational training courses and savings.


  • Helping Heart is designed specially for homeless donations, but the concept of contactless donations could be used as part of numerous charity fundraising initiatives.
  • The technology would be used by the homeless, by participating donors, by shelters and by representatives of charities hoping to raise funds.

Steps to Deployment: 

  1. Identify and organize various organizations willing to participate, namely shelters, banks, supermarkets, restaurants, clothing stores or community centers.
  2. Distribute jackets to homeless people around the city. Include an explanation or training for the wearers on how the technology works, and what they are entitled to.
  3. Invest in marketing for city dwellers to know that this is a donation option and that donations will be used for legitimate purchases of necessities, to incentivize donation.

ArticleIs ‘tap and go’ a better way to give to charity?

Company Case Film: N=5, Helping Heart

Comment on “Extinguish a Fire with Low-Frequency Sound Waves” 

The point on incorporating the technology into “swarm robotics” is a fascinating now, with an army of waterless fire-fighting drones ready to be launched at a larger-scale fire. In London, the recent Grenfell Tower fire was incredibly devastating due to the high-rise nature of the building and although many people were saved on the lower levels, firemen could not reach the higher levels fast enough. Drones would have the ability to fight the fire from above, possibly in unison with firefighters working from below, and devices like the sonic extinguisher are light enough (possibly not yet, but in later models) that this could become a reality.

This lightweight capability also makes these extinguishers possible for vehicles or airplanes, where weight is a consideration, or even in schools etc. where children would struggle to lift a fire extinguisher if required to.

An additional point is the concern over the high-heat, as the sonic extinguishers currently have no cooling system of their own, which would add weight and expense, and is a design capability that needs to be established.




One thought on “I don’t have any change but I want Change: contactless payment for homeless donations

  1. I think this is a great innovation to solve the issue of homeless using donation for drugs or alcohol rather than for basic necessities. Furthermore, the options to direct payments towards vocational training courses could potentially solve the bigger issue of unemployment and reduce the number of homeless people. However, with such a high-tech jacket targeting homeless population, I wonder how much is it going to cost and who are going to pay for it? I think municipal governments should definitely take the lead in the program to attract more participating vendor and provide initial funding.


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