The concept of the classic baby monitor may very well soon be a thing of the past. As technology leaps forward in the new millennium, a new trend of monitoring self-activity as well as improving lives on an individual basis has given way for the development of a variety of personal analytical products. One such being a baby monitoring device produced by Sproutling, now available for pre-order for $249 (retail $300). The sensor (attached like a Fitbit band) is able to provide on-going reports to parents via an app on their mobile device. This wearable baby monitor that is supposed to make your life as a parent less stressful has stirred up controversy between technology evangelists and those with more traditional ideas of parenting. Should we be strapping sensors to our infants or is this a prime example of technology going too far?
Sproutling's wearable baby monitor is a small infant sized bracelet that is strapped around the ankle of the child as if she/he were a dog with a shock collar or a criminal on house arrest. With this sensor of 1000 data points per minute the monitor is able to track, record, and send reports of the baby's heart rate, sleeping patterns (including predictions of when he/she will wake up), overall moods, and even the brightness and noise levels of the surrounding environment.
The truth of the matter is that this is all great information to know about the health of your new born. However, this is all information that parents have be able to learn about their children for centuries….sans the technology and fashionable anklet. In a world where we are becoming increasingly exposed to technology at a younger and younger age, we need to ask ourselves where the line should be drawn. With newly developed technology making it "easier" and "less stressful" to be a parent, the bond between parent and child is growing progressively apart. More often than ever we see iPad's and Xbox 360 consoles serving as babysitting tools for modern parents. Kids are hardly looking up from their iPhones to notice the real world around them. Undoubtedly there exists a threshold of an inordinate amount of technology, especially when it comes to raising our children. Many experts such as Dr. Kamala Ghaey see no crucial benefits for a monitoring device such as this, other than converting the child into a lesser burden on the parents. Dr. Ghaey states that she "would not recommend this specific monitor because what it is monitoring does not contribute to safety in any way and will create more disruption in parents' sleep." Do not be fooled, this is clearly a product for the parents not the children. However, I could easily see this causing more harem than good, creating even more anxiety problems than necessary. Too much knowledge can lead to paranoia, particularly concerning parents and their children.
With that in mind, there is one specific feature that Sproutling says modern parents will enjoy, and that is its ability to predict wake-up times. The company's website claims that you can "better plan your afternoon by knowing how much time you have before she wakes up from her nap". Essentially what they are saying is that with this feature, you will know just how long you can keep the party going without being bothered by a waking baby.
My feeling is that once the responsibility of parenthood has been set in motion, it is natural to go with the flow, learning your child's needs on your own as opposed to a device dictating them to you. As Sproutling CEO Chris Bruce said in a recent interview to Fast Company, when it comes to raising children "there is no owner's manual", and in my opinion there never should be. To those parents who think otherwise and decide to use this product, I remind you to please always check the battery level on your baby's collar.
The Sproutling Baby Monitor will be available for shipping early 2015.
Images courtesy of Sproutling.