Oxygen and Heart Rate Baby Monitor Meets $100k Crowdfunding Goal; Next Goal: Saving Infant Lives

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the largest cause of infant death; with its new 800+ users, Owlet will create the largest data set of infant health. Making it the first step in SIDS prevention using ‘big data.’

The Owlet Vitals Monitor on a newborn while in his carseat.

The Owlet Vitals Monitor on a newborn while in his carseat.

"It [SIDS] is a syndrome, that means nobody knows why all these babies are dying every year. We hope that Owlet’s data set will allow researchers to use big data to learn more about things like SIDS.”

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the number one cause of infant death from one month to a year. Researchers hope that with the newly possible 'Owlet Data Set' they will be able to make discoveries that have never before been possible. 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. This device will not only be a big help for sleep-starved parents but also a huge help for data-starved researchers.

Its been three weeks since the online launch of Owlet Baby Care. In this short time they were able to sell over $130,000 worth of product on their website’s crowd funding campaign. “This really has been a grass roots movement,” says Kurt Workman Founder/CEO and father of a baby on the way, “ Parents knew that this product would not come to fruition unless we reached our goal of $100,000, and so they graciously shared our project on their social networks and anywhere they could. We could never have done this without such a supportive community.”

Saving Infant Lives

Owlet’s mission is to do good in the world while creating products that simplify parenthood.

Owlet Baby Care with its new 800+ users will have created the largest set of infant health data the world has ever seen. More data will mean better research and that could mean life saving discoveries by the research community.

“We are really excited by all the scientists and researchers who have reached out to us with the desire to put the Owlet Vitals Monitor’s data to good use,” says Kurt Workman. He continues, “The largest cause of infant death from one month to a year is SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the fact that it is a syndrome means nobody knows why all these babies are dying every year. We hope that Owlet’s data set will allow researchers to use big data to learn more about things like SIDS.”

According to professionals, researchers 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, sleep apnea, or autism,” says Steven Liddle, PHD and Data Scientist. He continues, “Every heart beat, every kick, every temperature reading, and every nap is a new data point that never before has been seen by researchers on this magnitude.” 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.

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 and we need everyone’s support to create this lifesaving product,” says Jacob Colvin. Owlet’s FDA-cleared product could save hundreds to thousands of infant lives that are taken by SIDS every year.

Product Features

Additional features include Rollover Alerts, skin temperature, and sleep-quality tracking.

Roll Over Alerts – 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 percent 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.

“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 him. 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 Bomsta, Chief Engineering Officer and father of one.

About Owlet Baby Care

As their highly successful crowd funding campaign finishes, co-founders and best friends Kurt Workman and Tanor Hodges learn the gender of both of their first children that are due within only one week of each other. Only one year ago Kurt first had the idea for the Owlet Vitals Monitor when caring for his twin cousins who were born prematurely. He also had a cousin pass away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Now one year later Owlet is a fully functioning product that has over 800 customers. “This is a feat that very few hardware startup companies can boast about,” says Tanor Hodges. “It is a definite sign that parents are excited for this product and this movement!”

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.

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Jordan Monroe
Owlet Baby Care
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Owlet Baby Monitors
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