Gone are the days of worry-filled sleepless nights. Smart Beat are revolutionising parenthood by giving parents the rest they need, using state-of-the-art tech
Parenthood presents numerous challenges, not least with the changes to your sleep pattern. Getting uninterrupted sleep is difficult in the early stages. Forever checking on your little one can be tiring, interrupting the rest you need to be healthy and function properly.
It’s somewhat of an understatement, but having a baby changes your life. Those little bundles of joy irreparably alter your world.
On average, new parents are lucky to get around four and a half hours of sleep per night, falling well short of the recommended eight hours. Over the course of twelve months, it all adds up to a loss of 50 nights of sleep.
When sleep-deprived we behave erratically. Our moods and emotions change on a whim and our judgment is impaired. Anxiety is heightened, especially with concern for the well-being of your child.
Smart Beat is changing that, with innovative technology aimed at shouldering some of the burdens associated with parenthood and alleviating the worries which come with it.
Smart Beat can see more than the human eye
Using state-of-the-art computer vision technology, Smart Beat has developed a novel way to monitor a baby’s breathing, which alerts parents when something isn’t quite right.
“Cameras can see twice as many shades of color as the human eye,” says Erin Wagner, COO of Smart Beat, “It can differentiate between shades so similar that to us they look exactly the same. Human eyes see about 7 million shades whereas cameras pick up on more than 16 million.”
In 2012, Smart Beat founder Nate Ruben and his wife Sarah gave birth to a son prematurely.
“They lost their first baby to miscarriage. Hyrum was born premature, and Sarah, having already coped with that recent loss, found herself overcome with anxiety that something would happen to this baby, too.”
Sleep-related dangers are the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.
Hyrum was at high risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and the worry took its toll on them both.
“It was so extreme that she couldn’t sleep, so she quickly began experiencing severe sleep deprivation, then postpartum depression.”
Nate, an engineering student at the time, decided to do something about this, so for his master’s thesis he looked at monitoring vital signs with a camera. Together with Smart Beat co-founder Dr Jake Gunther, they wrote algorithms which track changes in single pixels. Smart Beat captures the information from 2 million pixels in each frame, at 20 frames per second. That accounts for 2.4 billion data points in each minute monitored by Smart Beat.
Smart Beat is a pioneer in consumer BabyTech. It was in development before smart baby monitors came to market, inspired by a study from MIT in 2012 which developed an algorithm capable of measuring the pulse of an individual. By noticing the slightest movements in video data, this earlier form of computer vision recognised subtle shifts in skin colour with every heartbeat.
The device itself is a small panoramic camera which streams live audio and video to a smartphone or tablet. It charts breaths-per-minute and monitors real-time breathing, so, if something is wrong, the app can alert the parents immediately. It runs alongside a small base station computer, which handles all the data securely.
With the proliferation of IoT devices in the modern smart home, Smart Beat looks set to integrate nicely, but they’re under no illusions: this isn’t a device for everybody.
“The generation that was weaned on smartphones falls into two categories,” says Erin. There are those who think that this technology is too important not to use, and those who think that it is just another device with little use for them and their family. However, market trends indicate a demand for smart baby monitors and sales have been promising.
Today, the global smart connected baby monitors market is growing rapidly. Research by Technavio suggests a year-over-year growth rate of over 20%, leading to a market value of $119 million by 2023.
“The success of Owlet, a pulse oximeter in a sock that tracks baby’s heart rate and blood oxygenation, has been very encouraging,” says Erin, “they grossed $19 million their first year.”
How does Smart Beat factor into a smart home?
Being an IoT connected device in the smart home, the risks of hacking are a concern for some. Recently, security experts at McAfee exposed a flaw in a smart plug, which allowed the hackers to jump to other connected devices. A seemingly innocuous device could be a gateway to your wifi network, your surveillance, and even your computer.
Smart Beat has developed two security settings so the device can be adapted to the user’s own security needs.
Using the best in authentication and encryption to protect their data, ’Remote Access’ allows parents to check in from wherever they are, be it the next bedroom over, at work or on the other side of the world.
Smart Beat have also included ‘Lock Down’. This security setting takes the Smart Beat offline, using a Local Area Network (LAN) instead. With this setting, Erin says that “only users physically in the home can access the video and breathing data. After all, they can’t hack what they can’t reach.”
Smart Beat takes their device’s security very seriously. They recognise that it is not just another connected gadget to increase automation or perform basic tasks, but it is a tool which parents will rely on, and therefore must feel safe and confident when introducing it to their home.
What’s next for Smart Beat?
Building upon the success of their baby monitor, Smart Beat are now looking to the future, developing new and exciting innovations and creating a neat ecosystem for connected devices and services.
They’re exploring the possibilities for adapting the technology to eldercare, disability care and sleep health. Smart Beat is also continuing to develop technologies in line with the product, all in a bid to “make life easier for parents,” with sleep quality analysis, potty training aides and even cry interpretation.
“Twenty years ago, moms could follow safe sleep guidelines and at least know they had done everything within their power. But this generation, weaned on technology that monitors everything from travel time to calorie burn, has the deep, underlying awareness that it is within our power to do more.”
You can see Smart Beat for yourself at mysmartbeat.com