Owlet baby monitor

You might think that this post is a poorly-disguised effort to garner clicks and shares; why else would we lead with a photo of such an adorable, big-eyed infant? Actually, this is about peace of mind for parents, and especially new parents with their first child. Just about every parent knows about that urge to check on a sleeping baby “just to make sure that everything’s okay” in spite of the risk of waking the dozing child. That’s why baby monitors are so popular, using sound and hidden video cameras that link to base stations and smartphones and the cloud and lots more.

The folks at Owlet have taken a different approach. They’ve pared down the feature set to the minimum that parents need to know. Is the baby’s heart beating at an appropriate rate? Is the baby’s breathing effective? If not, sound an alarm. Otherwise, rest easy knowing that the kid is okay. The Owlet has a sensor that pops into a washable sock that the baby wears while in bed. (It even fits inside most footed pajamas.) It measures heart rate and blood oxygen level (which is more useful than breathing rate). The sensor communicates with a base station that sounds an alert if there’s cause for concern. It can also send data to an iPhone app, but you don’t need the phone to monitor the child’s vitals while sleeping.

The system is slated to ship in March, and the company is taking pre-orders at $250. According to the company representatives that I met at CES 2015, they are already planning on adding features to the next version. It will also monitor skin temperature and body position, which will provide parents even more peace of mind without overwhelming them with too much information.