I recently came across a wearable baby monitor from a California-based startup called Sproutling. At first, I thought this was yet another wearables company in an overly crowded market, this time selling to over-anxious, sleep-deprived parents of newborns. Part of it hit a chord with me personally, as I became a father last year and have been through the rigors of fresh parenthood.
Looking at the product a bit deeper, I realized that Sproutling is more about the insights and meaningful changes that it can bring about in parents’ lives. This runs counter to most wearable marketing you see today, which talks about how smartly cut or polished the wearable device is, or how many colors it comes in.
Sproutling is one of the few wearable devices that puts intelligence first and device second. The product comes with a wearable ankle band for the baby, a charger, and a mobile app. Sproutling has the right marketing approach with the product being positioned as a “sensing, learning, and predicting” baby monitor. In other words, it goes beyond just monitoring your baby.
While wearables for most of us mean shiny new gadgets, when done right they can become the “invisible technology” in the background that assists at the right time with the appropriate information. In Sproutling’s case, it lets you know the quality of the baby’s sleep, and provides an approximate timeline of when the baby might wake, also letting you know if the baby is calm, fussy, or angry when awake. It also alerts you when it senses an abnormal heart rate or if a baby has rolled over.
Yes, like any other wearable worth its mettle, there are multiple sensors on it. However rather than highlight those, Sproutling talks about the machine learning algorithms in the background that can relate that sensor data to context and provide specific meaningful insights.
Sproutling only starts shipping in 1Q 2015 and one can question the validity of these claims. But maybe there is a lesson for other wearable vendors who need to bring out the specific insights and intelligence that can be gained from the device, apart from how well engineered the hardware and design is.
All wearables have a connection to our bodies in some shape or form. Yes, they need to look good and be designed appropriately. They can also gather multiple data from the embedded sensors. However, what makes wearables invaluable is how that data is put into context. That context might be a use case, location, time, or even personal identity.
I really hope we see more wearable vendors like Sproutling, which serves as a sign that the market is taking the first baby steps towards maturing.