By Jordan Monroe
I can still remember the first time tears blurred the view of my computer screen after receiving an email from a customer.
I had been working at Owlet for over a year at this point, and I had heard many tragic stories of parents losing a child due to suffocation or health conditions. However, this time was different. It was the first email I received after my son James was born. I struggled to even finish this message from a fellow parent.
Something very primal happens to your brain when you have a child. It’s like your heart is pulled apart and put back together again. You feel so much deeper than you even realized you were capable of. Now when I read emails or do presentations, getting all choked up is a common occurrence.
A significant number of the emails we get are because parents lost their child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. What is absolutely mind blowing is that SIDS is the largest cause of infant death from one month to a year old and we STILL do not understand what causes it!
This is partially because many researchers are data starved. They run studies on groups of infants as small as 20. More data on this problem could lead to discoveries about infant health, which could greatly reduce many forms of infant death, not just SIDS. At Owlet, we are creating the largest data set of infant health data that has ever been seen.
Our baby monitor is actually a snuggly little baby sock that uses hospital technology, pulse oximetry, to detect an infant’s heart rate and oxygen levels and alerts parents if it appears that their child stops breathing in the middle of the night.
Owlet currently is not intended to be a SIDS device. It has the sole purpose of collecting and alerting about health data so it can be an extra set of eyes for parents. We just started shipping the product this year and have found that parents absolutely love it! It provides them added peace of mind and even *gasp* a restful night’s sleep!
There is a lot of demand for Owlet. By the end of this year we will have tens of thousands of infants using the Owlet Monitor. That will be millions of data points around infant heart rate, oxygen levels, sleep quality, movement, and temperature.
Unless parents opt out of sharing their anonymous data, Owlet will be able to give access to this huge data source to researchers to finally understand more about some of the biggest conditions plaguing families. We have already had inbound interest from groups like Harvard University, Rutgers University, Baylor Health, and Seattle Children’s Hospital hoping to participate in research from the data that our device is creating. Our product is not yet FDA cleared, but after that clearance is done our product will have many more research and medical applications.*
Spending so much time with and receiving mentorship from IBM has really raised our vision to what we can do with our huge data set. We feel very lucky to work side by side with a company that is also trying to tackle the world’s biggest problems. Just as IBM marches on to a smarter planet, we here at Owlet we will push forward this vision of improved health for infants and a brighter future for families every where until it is fully realized.
IBM’s New Way to Startup Competition:
Owlet is one of five startups that lived in a house together for five days in April during IBM’s New Way To Startup April Accelerator. The teams competed in daily challenges on topics such as design thinking, rapid prototyping, A/B testing, and closing a sale. The teams rethought their paradigms using Watson Analytics and collaborated with co-workers back home using IBM Verse. Teams also had the help of VIP experts and a “dream team” of up to four mentors as they completed each of the challenges. Following a period of social voting, which runs from now through June 15, the winner will be announced on July 1st. Stay tuned for the latest reality “webisodes” published ibm.com/newwaytostartup over the summer to reveal amazing entrepreneurial breakthroughs, collaboration, and a hefty dose of inspiration and follow #NewWayToWork on Twitter.
- Sign up for the technology that fueled the webisodes at www.ibm.com/Verse and www.ibm.com/WatsonAnalytics
- And be sure to read the story of fellow Startup competitors, Lassy Project and Charity Charge.
* Note Owlet is not a medical device and should not be depended on for life saving applications. See our Disclaimer. (please link “medical device” to https://owletbabycare.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/203379119-What-is-the-difference-between-the-Owlet-Baby-Monitor-and-a-medical-monitor-) (please link “Disclaimer” to https://www.owletcare.com/faq/what-is-owlet-s-disclaimer)