Back in January I reported on the introduction of a smart wearable baby monitor from Mimo that captured more than simple audio to transmit the condition of the infant and its environment. The Sproutling Baby Monitor goes even farther, capturing numerous datapoints and making predictions and assessments of the baby’s behavior and mood. Reducing the hassle of a sensor module hidden in special jammies, Sproutling confines the entire monitor to a small anklet. Targeted at new parents overwhelmed with the wave of change and uncertainty their little bundle of joy has arrived upon, Sproutling promises to use a similar approach to the Nest thermostat. Rather than learning your preferences for climate control, their system learns your baby’s behavior and sleep patterns, providing both real-time information on the little one and predicting when he or she will wake up and in what type of mood. That is a pretty bold claim.
Sproutling: What Do You Get?
The monitor itself is a wearable band that affixes to either of the infant’s ankles. This reduces the chances of Junior finding a way to yank it off or potentially scratching himself as he might were it on the wrist. The system tracks sixteen different measurements every second from sensors that gather information on heart rate, temperature (infant and ambient), position, movement, humidity, and light and noise levels. It communicates these readings via Bluetooth to…
The Charger/ Base Station
This little bowl uses the Alliance for Wireless Power’s Rezence standard to recharge the monitor, which should take about two hours. The base station also houses the environmental sensors for the room. It communicates via WiFi and sends that data to the third component of the system, the…
This provides several screens of information to the parents on the current status of their kid. If the band is out of range of the charger, the smartphone can still communicate directly with the monitor. It will be available on iOS at launch with an Android version to follow.
I asked if the system could support twins. It can. Each infant needs its own monitor and charger, but the app can track up to four babies simultaneously.
Sproutling: Is It Safe?
This may seem like a familiar refrain from my earlier post, but when it comes to newborns and technology, there is no such thing as being too concerned about safety. As with Mimo, it really does appear that the developers paid as much attention to the safety of their product as they did to its performance.
The band is made of soft, flexible, breathable materials that are hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive baby skin, and is ultrasonically welded without any potentially toxic adhesives. The sensor and battery are fully enclosed in medical grade silicone with no metal exposed to touch the baby at all. The battery charges wirelessly, so there are no exposed charging contacts either.
The band communicates with the charger via Bluetooth Low Energy, a standard that transmits with 1,500x less energy than a typical smartphone. The sensor also transmits the signal away from the child and has added shielding to further protect the baby’s skin.
Sproutling: But seriously… it can actually tell when the baby is going to wake up?
The Sproutling team includes pediatric specialists and two Ph. D data analysts who have developed specialized machine learning algorithms. Out of the box, the sleeping patterns will be based on statistical models for babies in the particular child’s age range, but the system will adapt and learn to develop new patterns customized to the individual. Sproutling claims it should be able to estimate the waking time within a few minutes. The system uses the data from the heart rate, noise, motion, and temperature sensors to gauge whether the baby is awake and calm, happy, or upset. This will definitely require some first hand exposure to properly evaluate.
Sproutling: How do you get one?
The system will retail for $299, but Sproutling is offering early bird pricing at $249 while supplies last. The pre-order campaign begins today for the first batch scheduled to ship in early 2015. You can pre-order at www.sproutling.com.
Other than my two adorable furkids, I have no experience being a parent. However, the experiences of my friends along with a multitude of movie and TV show plots have taught me that first time parents often feel lost and anxious when it comes to caring for their new arrival. If the device performance matches the claims, then this could be a great tool to assist mom and dad navigate the turbulent waters of their new life. Moreover, the remote access to your child’s condition gives the working parent a window into their baby’s world. For those who have to rely on a nanny or some other form of professional childcare, that could be a tremendous relief, especially for the parent suffering some separation anxiety.