With wearable technology becoming increasingly accessible and easy to use, the potential applications of use for infants and newborns is hard to ignore. We’re not talking about something questionable like sticking Google Glass on a newborn’s head to give them an early start on their ABCs, but rather wearables that feature more practical functions such as health monitoring and early warning systems for trouble.
Being a parent is arguably the hardest job anyone can have. With the majority of the population working and much of that work making its way into the home, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and distracted at times when your undivided attention is needed most.
If a wearable device can assist (but certainly not replace)a parent in monitoring the health and well-being of a child, then it should certainly stand to reason that it is an area worth paying close attention to.
Owlet Smart Sock
One such item you might want to add to this list in coming years is the Owlet Smart Sock, a small baby bootie that monitors your newborn’s heart rate and oxygen levels.
It also helps you monitor the baby’s sleep quality and skin temperature and even alerts you when the baby rolls over at night.
The Owlet Smart Sock allows you to check real-time statistics on any device with a browser and gives the parent information they wouldn’t normally have without additional diagnostic tools. It lets them know whether their baby is running a fever, has a higher than usual heartbeat or even whether the baby have stopped breathing.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the leading cause of death among infants prior to their first birthday. The data being collected through the Owlet and future products of the company can be used by researchers to study possible preventative measures (and will hopefully one day result in a cure). The idea is that by having a continuous stream of information throughout the first year of a child’s life, scientists will be far better equipped to solve these pressing medical issues in the future.
The Owlet works by combining a removable sensor with a set of washable socks to allow comfortable and safe monitoring through the baby’s foot. This type of monitoring system has been in place at hospitals for several decades, but until now, it hasn’t really been able to go home with the parent.
The Owlet Smart Sock recently raised $1.85 million in funding to expand its offering in what the company hopes will be a product that can go home with every baby born around the world. It is not currently classified as a medical device, but the founders are open to turning their FDA tested device into an FDA approved medical device in the future, should the need arise.
The Mimo baby monitor is a onesie that provides a similar function to the Owlet but in a different form factor. Like the Owlet, the Mimo tracks breathing, skin temperature and movement. It doesn’t currently provide heart rate statistics, however.
The Mimo baby monitor system combines a kimono with a separate device called the Mimo Turtle, which provides the monitoring system. The base station (called the Lilypad) receives a signal via low-powered Bluetooth and sends it to Mimo for analysis so it can be presented to the parents. The base station is Wi-Fi capable and contains a microphone to allow audio streaming to the parent’s smartphone.
These are just two of many devices presently in development that promise to make monitoring and data gathering easier for parents and researchers. This information can provide important peace of mind to parents and vital, potentially life-saving data to researchers and scientists working on some of the most important issues currently facing new parents today.