Feature Medicine and the Media

Marketing wearable home baby monitors: real peace of mind?

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g6639 (Published 18 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6639
  1. David King, clinical lecturer in paediatrics, Academic Unit of Child Health, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TH, UK
  1. d.a.king{at}sheffield.ac.uk

The peace of mind for which parents buy expensive but unregulated wearable monitors, and on which their marketing depends, may be illusory, David King writes

Wearable devices for infants are a growing industry. In April 2014, the US company Owlet announced that it had raised $1.85m (£1.2m; €1.5m) to develop and launch a “smart sock” that can be attached to a newborn baby’s ankle to monitor its vital signs.1 Parents can use a smart phone to check heart rate, oxygen concentrations, and skin temperature and to receive alerts if the child rolls over.

Owlet’s chief executive, Kurt Workman, is ambitious. “We see the wearable future will include every single baby coming home from the hospital with a wearable monitor,” he told the Telegraph.1 The company states that these devices will give parents “peace of mind and maybe even a full night’s sleep.”2 The product is still in development but can be reserved online for $250.

Another company, Rest Devices, has developed Mimo, which is available for $199.99. This is a baby grow with inbuilt sensors that monitor a baby’s respiratory rate and temperature.3 Sproutling is another start-up company aiming to capitalise on this market. It has released details of a device to be worn around a baby’s ankle that can monitor heart rate and temperature and will sell at a recommended price of $299.4

Sudden infant death syndrome

To older paediatricians this …

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