I am back from a generous 8-months parental leave, courtesy of Intel and the government of Germany. During this time, I was much less active in trying out technology than I thought I would. As most first time parents, I overestimated my future availability for much else. I did some testing, but besides time I would like to have had budget to do more.
There are plenty of technology available for parents, with many IoT products that are around since before IoT was really this big thing. Caring for a new baby is a sensitive time for parents, and it is a relief to rely on technology to inform us and give some peace of mind. Not surprising, two out of ten Make It Wearable finalists in 2014 were projects directed at this area. This year, several wearables and devices intended for infants where showcased at CES. And as in any upcoming technology, there is market for more: more products or better versions of existing products. Some products are thought for other areas and parents find out they are great for parenting. Others are designed to help parents but the usability isn’t where it could be. So here is a collection of products that I tested and what I would like to have tested. Maybe you can create a better version of some of them with Intel technology. :)
Baby wearables – at CES 2014, Intel revealed a partnership to create a smart baby onesie, which would collect and send data about baby temperature, awake time and others. The Mimo baby monitor is not just great, it is super cute! As the Mimo Team wrote then, “By partnering with Intel and using the power of Edison, we can expand our thoughts on Nursery 2.0, a Mimo ecosystem that will help already great parents make parenting a little easier, calmer, and (most importantly) safer!”. Later that year, I met the Spanish company Thermibody, which are also developing a similar product. When my baby was 5 weeks old, he had a sudden fever. It went as sudden as it came, but I really would like to have had one of such onesies to monitor it! And with this recipe from Instructables using Edison, I may just build one myself!
Baby monitors – this is more like a category than one device. There are the safety mattress that will monitor baby’s sleep. These mattresses monitor baby’s breathing movements, and trigger a very loud alarm if baby stops breathing for too long. I can only imagine how many SIDS episodes these devices have averted. There are video monitors that can transmit wireless, and can optimize the usage by using a sound sensor to trigger the video transmission. Other monitors can collect data about sleep, crying, temperature. In fact, this other recipe shows an example of such monitors using Edison.
Smart watches apps - Pebble and MilkMama – breastfeeding is one of the most difficult things to establish, and so little is talked about prior you need it. One of the ways to help you to understand the process is to roughly time how long the baby stays on each side, to proper balance it. But with all the sleep deprivation and constantly handling, many times you forget your phone away, so the watch app may be easier. And you only need one hand to activate it. However, holding the baby constantly makes you aware of that thing in your wrist may be uncomfortable for him, so I stopped not long after.
Google Glass – I saw this article before having the baby and I was a bit skeptical. I should say I was skeptical of the whole GGlass concept. And really, would a new mother need one? Until I became one, and oh my gosh I wanted a GGlass so much. By then Google had stopped selling it, or I may would have bought one. There is of course the facility of reading mails or messages while you have to entertain yourself – like at 2:30AM when you are holding your baby for up for 15mins after nursing him so he burps. But the opportunities for taking pictures or videos from your perspective are probably the most exciting feature. The view from your baby so peacefully sleeping in your arms, or the intensity of those eye to eye moments. An extra camera will never capture the same angle, and it will only distract the baby – an example of how observing an phenomena changes its nature. The GGlass would be more transparent on that. Does anyone knows what are they doing currently?
Intel Smart Clip – there are several tragic stories of babies who are left in closed cars. Usually involves a parent doing something out of a routine, and having their muscle memories triggering them to follow something they do every day, and forget a placid sleeping baby back. The scariest thing is that it can happen to anyone. So Intel has shown a solution during CES this year, using a smart clip connected to sensors in a child car seat, to detect when a child is left in the car. It is wonderful when technology is used to prevent injuries and save lives. The clip uses Bluetooth to communicate with an app, and includes temperature sensors for the child.
Babybe – one of the finalists for the Make It Wearable contest in 2014 was the Babybe, a haptic platform that would enable mothers to transmit touch and sounds to premature babies. For any baby, skin-to-skin is incredible calming and important for their development. However, premature babies can’t stay out of the incubators for long, so the time for such contacts are seriously limited. Babybe addresses this problem, using sensors and a special material to shape the mother form, and deliver to baby this shape, the mother’s heartbeat and the body temperature.
Uff! Quite a list! Do you know any other that should be mention? We are moving quite fast here at the 8 months mark – mobility, mobility, mobility! Always interested in knowing more solutions!