Finally, you can really know if your child is safe and breathing well.
Based out of Salt Lake City, Owlet Baby Care has created the world’s first baby “smart sock” that transmits a child’s heart rate, oxygen levels, skin temperature, sleep quality, and sleep position (rollover alerts) to a parent’s smartphone or other internet-based device.
Kurt Workman Owlet Founder/CEO and father of a baby on the way; first had the idea when caring for his twin cousins who were born prematurely. He also had a cousin pass away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The worry of whether or not an infant was getting enough oxygen was a personal one that hit close to home.
“Every parent knows what it’s like to lay in bed and stress about whether your child is breathing,“ says Jacob Colvin, Owlet Founder and father of two. “Hearing my sick child wheezing all night long because of serious RSV is one of the hardest experiences I have ever had, knowing I couldn’t do anything for her. If we can help one parent or one child, all our effort would be worth it.”
A Pioneering Product
Currently there is nothing on the consumer market that can show parents their child’s heart rate and oxygen levels. “A hospital pulse oximeter costs parents around a thousand dollars. We are so excited that we can offer peace of mind to parents at a financially feasible price,” says Kurt Workman. However, the Owlet Vitals Monitor is not a medical device, neither should it be used for diagnostic purposes.
The Owlet Vitals Monitor is also the first “wearable technology” in the infant space and is especially unique because it applies a safe, proven hospital technology in a new way: utilizing multiple sensors, so it can grow with your child. The monitor will continue to work as long as it fits the child’s foot, and it has been beta tested on infants up to two years old.
Heart rate and oxygen levels are found using Owlet’s proprietary, innovative four-sensor pulse oximeter. Pulse oximetry is that little red light you put on your finger when you go to the doctor. “Having four sensors allows for nine different reading combinations. Hospital pulse oximeters only allow for one combination of light and sensor, making Owlet’s monitor a vast improvement over current technology. The new design allows the Owlet monitor to automatically adjust data read for foot growth, movement, and various levels of ambient light,” says Zack Bombsta, Chief Engineering Officer and father of one.
Additional features include Rollover Alerts, skin temperature, and sleep-quality tracking.
Sleep position – In the 1990’s, when the “Back to Sleep” campaign began, mortality rates from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome were cut nearly in half. Researchers have found a strong correlation between an infant sleeping on its stomach and instances of sudden infant death syndrome. By alerting parents when their child starts to rollover, parents can assess their child’s ability to roll back and preempt potential problems.
Temperature – “I feel awful when I walk in the room to find my child freezing cold or sweating profusely. Owlet’s skin temperature sensor will let me be aware of my baby’s needs,” says Erica Morgan, a parent beta tester.
Sleep Quality – The Owlet Vitals Monitor has a built-in accelerometer; in addition to improving overall function of the pulse oximeter, this also allows parents to monitor the quality of their child’s sleep. Owlet eventually wants to be able to send a notification to a parent’s phone, saying, “Your child received 30% less quality sleep last night.” This enables parents to be aware of a potentially low immune system and take actions to help prevent sickness, such as allowing for an extra nap or making adjustments to their infant’s surroundings to improve sleep quality in the future.
Owlet Baby Care is launching a “selfstarter” crowdfunding campaign on their website to jumpstart their business. After being rejected by Kickstarter for being a baby product, Owlet decided to run their own crowdfunding to reach their goal of $100,000, rather than use other platforms. “Indiegogo is a very small platform, and being able to send such an important message our way was very important to us,” says Kurt Workman, who currently has a child on the way.
“Our situation is different than most campaigns: if we don’t deliver our product on time, then it loses value for parents. I’m not aware of every crowdfunding campaign out there, but I would be willing to bet we are one of the most prepared crowdfunding projects ever,” says Kurt Workman. Owlet has been working with their American manufacturers for the past two months. The electronics are fully functional and ready to be mass produced. The iPhone app was submitted a month ago and is currently going through Apple’s approval process. The final touches, programming and sock design, are also finished.
Mission & Future of Owlet
“Our mission is to make a difference in the world. By creating products that help parents and increase the safety of their kids, we are making a difference in ways that draw on our passion,” says Jacob Colvin.
The Owlet Team is currently going through the FDA process to add an alarm, along with other features, to the next version of the product. This will take the Owlet Vitals Monitor to a whole new level, notifying parents of drops in heart rate or oxygen levels, and helping to prevent emergencies. The Owlet Team expects to finish FDA clearance by 2015. “The FDA process is a long and expensive one, we need everyone’s support to create this lifesaving product,” says Jacob Colvin. Owlet’s FDA-cleared product could save hundreds of infant lives, in addition to other great benefits in the medical sphere.
The Owlet Team plans on using its large database of collected infant health data to help researchers in the infant-disease field. According to professionals, these researchers in particular are often data-starved. By creating the largest set of infant health data, the team hopes to open the doors for researchers to find causes, cures, and predictive models for many infant ailments. “With a large enough data set, and with good predictive models, parents could be informed of the probability that their child will develop a condition such as bradycardia or sleep apnea,” says Steven Liddle, PHD and Data Scientist. These predictive models could very likely lead to a reduction in infant mortality. An infant’s health data would only be used if the parent opted in. The data will be made anonymous and only shared with accredited research organizations.
About Owlet Baby Care
Owlet Baby Care is a baby product company that produced the world’s first baby Vitals Monitor. Founded in 2012 by entrepreneur, engineer, and father-to-be, Kurt Workman, Owlet’s mission is to do good in the world while creating products that simplify parenthood.
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