This startup has created a wearable that helps solve a real problem. Meet the Owlet, a smart sock for babies that helps to monitor their breathing. Owlet was recently named the Best Startup at CES 2016 (!) and also was a CES Innovation Award honoree in Tech for a Better World. We asked the Owlet team to tell us more.
Describe Owlet Baby Care.
Owlet Baby Care was founded in 2013 by a team of passionate parents who wanted to bring themselves—and other parents around the globe—peace of mind and assurance by leveraging hospital technology to monitor a baby’s breathing and heart rate.
Our CEO Kurt Workman said, “We all ask ourselves the question, ‘is what I’m doing with my life meaningful?’ We all want to create meaning—something that has purpose or will benefit, or bless, the lives of others.” Kurt found an opportunity to do something very meaningful when he and his wife were helping his aunt care for her premature twins. He could see the stress and worry she was experiencing caring for the babies, and he thought to himself, “there has got to be something better, something out there that can help parents and alleviate some of these worries.” Around the same time his friend, who was a nurse at a hospital, told him about pulse oximetry and the idea of Owlet came to Kurt. He quickly built a team of others who believed in the vision and together they rallied around this cry to change the world. The Owlet team has been working since 2013 to take this from a concept to a real product on the market. Our product launched in October 2015 and is already changing the lives of many families.
Tell us about your Owlet Smart Sock.
When talking about the Owlet Smart Sock, we like to describe it as a little help for the hardest job in the world. We’ve taken hospital technology—pulse oximetry—and miniaturized it into a baby sock that is designed to alert users if their baby stops breathing. Pulse oximetry is safe, proven and effective. It’s been used in hospitals for decades (you probably know it as the little red light they clip on your finger in the hospital to measure heart rate and oxygen).
The sock communicates to a base station via bluetooth low-energy, and from the base station, through Wi-Fi users can access live vitals on their smartphone. Both the base station and smart phone app are designed to alert. The base station uses easy, at-a-glance monitoring with its color-coded lights. Green indicates those vitals (heart rate and oxygen) are in range, and red means heart rate or oxygen appear to be out of the normal range. This allows users to know from a glance that their baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels are in range. If the Wi-Fi goes out or a user’s phone dies? No worries. The base station is designed to work independent of Wi-Fi and the smartphone app.
The Owlet Smart Sock makes hospital technology appropriate for the home, designed to empower parents.
What value does Owlet have that makes it stand out against other wearables in the space?
This is an interesting question. ‘Wearable’ is really synonymous with tracking and quantifying. The Owlet is designed to monitor and alert, but we’re not tracking or showing data trends. We don’t fit in the wearable space. We’ve found that we’re really creating our own new category. It’s been our focus from the beginning. We did not set out to build a “baby data tracker” or a “Fitbit for babies.” We set out to try and solve a problem that matters to us as parents.
Where do you see Owlet Baby Care in the future? Do you have any specific ideas about future products or segments you would like to target?
We are very passionate about what we do! We are applying for FDA clearance to create a medical version of the monitor that can be used in hospitals.
On the consumer product side, we are seeing great success. We will be in 50,000 homes by 2017. One of the most rewarding things is hearing from families whose lives have been changed by Owlet. During our private beta period (Spring 2015 – October 2015) and since our public launch in October, we’ve heard from more than a dozen families who were alerted by their Owlet Monitor that their baby had stopped breathing and were able to intervene. Jordan, one of our co-founders, shared some of this on our blog in October, and since then, we’ve received many additional stories.
We are fortunate to work with an incredible team and have so many wonderful supporters and mentors who have rallied around this vision to change the world.
To find out more about Owlet go to their website here and watch the video below.
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