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'Smart sock' soothes nervous new parents

Thursday - 8/29/2013, 10:00am  ET

owletsockbody640.jpg
The Owlet Vitals Monitor is a 'smart sock' that monitors baby's heart rate and oxygen levels. (Courtesy Owlet Baby Care)

"Smart sock" may soothe anxious parents fears.

New "wearable technology" might let nervous parents avoid constantly checking to make sure their newborn is breathing well.

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WASHINGTON - Bringing a newborn baby home from the hospital is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking.

The weight of parental and financial responsibilities are daunting, but those are often dwarfed by the parents' realization the helpless baby is totally dependent upon them.

And most parents will admit constantly checking to make sure their baby was even breathing.

Owlet Baby Care hopes to soothe those nervous parents while making sure the infant's vital signs are in the healthy range.

"Parents leave the hospital with a list of things to look out for," says Kurt Workman, founder and CEO of the Salt Lake City company. "So it's really natural for a parent to come home worrying about his child's health."

The company is tweaking and seeking funding to bring the Owlet Vitals Monitor to market. They call it the world's first baby "smart sock" which transmits a baby's heart rate, oxygen levels, skin temperature, sleep quality, and sleep position to a parent's smartphone or other Internet device.

Readings from the Owlet Vitals Monitor are displayed on a parent's smartphone or other mobile device. (Courtesy Owlet Baby Care)

"They're constantly checking on them to make sure that they're doing OK," says Workman, who has a baby on the way.

He says the sock is the first piece of "wearable technology" for infants. Heart rate and oxygen levels are measured with a four-sensor pulse oximeter, similar to the oxygen-monitoring device that clips on a patient's finger at the doctor's office.

"The product shouldn't be used as a primary monitor," says Workman. "That's the parent."

Owlet Baby Care is crowdfunding on its website, "after being rejected by Kickstarter for being a baby product," with a goal of $100,000.

The company says it is currently going through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration process to add an alarm which would notify parents of drops in heart rate or oxygen levels.

"We expect to be able to ship in November, but the only way that will be possible is if interested parents help us in our campaign," says Workman.

"We want to bring peace of mind to parents, and health and safety to their children," says Workman.

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