Wearable baby tracker gives new parents peace of mind (Wired UK)

The Sproutling Baby Monitor, from new product company Sproutling, tracks infant sleep patterns, heart rate, and temperature


The first thing to know about Sproutling, the wearable device
that straps around a baby’s ankle, is that it’s not for the baby.
It’s for the parents. The second is that even though ‘Fitbit for
babies’ sounds clever, Sproutling doesn’t track fitness, it tracks

Baby monitors were invented in 1937 by Zenith Electronics. Any
new parent today would recognise the two-way radio, billed as a
“Night Nurse,” because baby monitors haven’t advanced much since.
Even the models with video screens only relay one type of
information: When the baby is awake and crying. “In reality, baby
monitors are really a poor extension of parents’ eyes and ears,”
says Sproutling CEO and co-founder Chris Bruce.

Instead, Sproutling promises to use wearable, sensor-driven
technology to give parents insight into their child’s sleeping
patterns. It does this with a wearable anklet, a charging dock with
a novel UI, and an app, all built by New Deal Design, the agency
behind the Fitbit.

Sproutling is for babies six months and up. A soft (washable and
waterproof) band fits around the baby’s ankle. Nestled in the band
is a red, vaguely heart-shaped pouch that houses sensors (for heart
rate, skin temperature, movement, and noise), Bluetooth LE tech,
and a battery. Those sensors capture 1,000 data points per minute,
and transmit them to the Sproutling app, where parents can see
their baby visualised as a flickering light (the active heart rate)
on a ring (which represents a clock). Sproutling alerts parents
when babies wake up, or has a fever, and uses statistical models to
create predictions for when the baby will wake up, and what
conditions create the best sleeping environment.

Sproutling’s app will also track multiple children. Simple colour coding gives parents at-a-glance information on whether their kid is okay or not okay


Crafted with an eye towards parental

Every touchpoint — both physical and digital — is crafted with
overwhelmed parents in mind. For instance, the band can be fastened
with one hand. Likewise, the bowl-shaped charging dock uses new
inductive resonance charging technology so that when it’s time for
a diaper change parents can scoop up their baby with one hand, and
simply drop the wearable onto the charger with the other. The app
uses animations, not hard numbers, to provide an at-a-glance
reassurance that your baby is alive and well (“New parents aren’t
going to know if 130 beats per minute is better than 90, and
without the medical context to understand vitals data it’s just
going to cause more fear and anxiety and needless calls to the
doctor,” Bruce says.) And if parents use the app to track multiple
Sproutling-wearing babies, a colour-coded bar explaining each
child’s status (okay, not okay) will stay live on the screen at all

Bruce and co-founder Matthew Spolin met in 2012 at a consumer
health startup. Both had babies at the time, and, like new parents
are wont to do, they shared stories about their kids and their
anxiety-inducing sleep behaviour. But when they took the idea of a
wearable for babies to paediatricians and OBGYNs, they got
pushback. “They said technology in the hands of parents isn’t a
good idea, because they don’t know that the heart rate fluctuates
throughout the day, that it changes as they get older,” Bruce says.
The Sproutling team explained their approach — animations and
information on a need-to-know basis — and won them over (those
doctors are advisors to Sproutling).

Sproutling is also banking on a larger cultural shift: This
generation of new parents are millennials. “They grew up with a
smartphone in their pocket, so they’re looking for technology to
solve their problems,” Spolin says. That’s also why they ditched
old product packaging tropes — pink for girls, blue for boys, and
pictures of smiling moms — in favour of an organic, muted product.
“We’ve worked hard to make it not look like technology,” Bruce

The Sproutling Baby Monitor is the first in a forthcoming line
of tech products, which Bruce says all geared towards solving
parenting paint points as their kids grow up. The Baby Monitor will
retail for $299 (£178), but is now available at an early bird
price, for pre-order, here.

This article originally appeared on Wired.com

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8 August 2014 | 10:28 am – Source: wired.co.uk

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