While checking out the "funded on Kickstarter" projects at Maker Faire NYC 2014, NotImpossibleNow's editor was introduced to Arturas Vaitaitis and his "MonBaby Smart Baby Monitor," which sends a baby’s breathing and activity signals to parents' phones, ensuring they get an audible alert if something is wrong. Tech for the sake of your fluffy new infant? That's the best kind of tech for humanity's sake.
NIN: Very cool. and the name of the company is ...
Arturas Vaitaitis: Mondevices. The name of the product is Monbaby.
Monbaby? Because it's French for "my baby"?
Arturas: Exactly. It's a play on words. Monbaby sounds French, and it's also baby monitor in reverse. Monbaby.
Very cool. What stage is your product currently in?
Arturas: Right now the hardware is 98% ready, so we're almost ready for manufacturing. There are a lot of interesting manufacturers here, we got new contacts, so maybe we'll do manufacturing in a different place, but hardware is done. We're honing our application for both Android and iPhone.
Monbaby is already on App Store, but it's more like a prototype for beta customers. We're doing another version of that, with the same functionality but that is a lot more user friendly. Once that's done, we're ready to go into manufacturing.
You were saying you're just about to launch a Kickstarter campaign around it?
Arturas: Yeah. October 6th is looking most likely. We have a presentation at New York Tech Meet-Up. It's a big meet up, about 1000 people. So that's where we gonna announce it.
Cool. So, what is Monbaby exactly?
Daniel Klaynberg: Monbaby is a baby monitor that comes in a button. It clips onto any baby's pajama, or onesie, or article of clothing, and it monitors their breathing rate and their sleep position at night. So, the parents can be on their iPhone or Android and see in real time if the baby is sleeping on it's back or on it's stomach and it will send an alert if the baby does roll over on it's stomach, which isn't recommended. It will alarm the parents if there's a stoppage in breathing. And a proximity alert is in the works--
"Proximity alert" meaning?
Daniel: Meaning that if you're out of range of the child, or the child is taken away from it's crib, it would alert the parents as well.
And any plans to use the monitor to measure other biometrics?
Arturas: Right now we're trying to make a first step, and with consumer devices, we basically need to make everything perfect. But it is a data collection device. We can collect the data, and we can even send it to a computer in the cloud. The smart phone is like a hub. So, we could do quite sophisticated analysis, but it's not quite ready for the consumer.
And in terms of how the monitor notifies the parent, does it send you a push notification, or a text message?
Daniel: It's a push notification. The app should be open on the phone, but it could be running in the background just like most other apps. The intention is that parents have it on them or leave it by their bedside and it'll notify them proactively.
What inspired you to create this in the first place?
Arturas: So, I have two kids. I was very paranoid, especially with the first born. I would, I would wake up in the middle of the night, would go up to my kid to see if he's breathing or not. Especially when he was calm, I would be totally freaking out and one time, I poked him, and he started crying.
You poked him?
Arturas: I'm a moron. And I wished there was a product that could just do that, you know? The proverbial mirror that you put up to the child, but electronic. And then later I was thinking, "What should I do with my life?" (Laughs) I thought that would be an excellent thing to try to design. At some point I decided that it was not just a hobby, and built a team, and we're moving forward now.
Where are you guys based?
Arturas: New Jersey.
What's the point of difference between this and some of the other monitoring & notification devices currently on the market?
Arturas: When I started three years ago, there was nothing like this but things were probably already in the works. There are three of four very serious competitors. What they don't have is this form factor - I call it our "smart button." It can be attached anywhere on an article of clothing. As a result, we made certain decisions about the hardware and a lot of IP went into filtering out the noise. That's how we differ - our form factor, and our quite sophisticated data cleansing algorithms.
How's the monitor attach to a baby's clothing?
Arturas: It's a clip.
Daniel: It snaps right in. It's really just a snap that accommodates the clothing.
Arturas: It's a patented design.
You mentioned that you were inspired to create this because of your own kids. If there was some other grand issue in the world that you could cure, solve or make possible, what would it be?
Arturas: Actually ... It's in our plans. We want to use exactly the same technology for seniors. It’s designed for the sandwich generation, for people like me who have young kids and old parents. I think there is a problem right now - there is a lot of wearable technology for people who are healthy, for fitness trackers. Honestly, if you think of it, these people don't really need more health, they're already healthy. What I want to do is to actually create wearable technology for people who need help, for their caregivers, for elder parents, or for younger kids. So, what we can do is fall detection as well, so that's in the works. There is a prototype working but we didn't finish it. We're proving the concept and know that's going to be our next thing: for seniors, medical monitoring for people who are sick, tremor detection, and proximity notifications for people who might wander off. A proximity alarm will be valuable for Alzheimer's or Parkinson's patients, it would send alarms to their caregivers.
Do you currently have a site for people to find out more?
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All photos by Elliot V. Kotek for NotImpossibleNow