Owlet Baby Monitor: The Quantified Infant


Back in July I wrote about the Scanadu Scout, a vital sign monitor that raised over $1.6M USD on Indiegogo and is set to ship in March, 2014. The Scout was developed by Walter de Brouwer after his son was hospitalized and he and his wife found themselves struggling to understand masses of information–but its technology isn’t specific to children. It’s a medical-grade Tricorder that can be used by anyone, at any age.

Owlet Baby Care, however, has zeroed in specifically on infant monitoring. Like the Scanadu, the Owlet Baby Monitor tracks vitals (heart rate, oxygen levels, and skin temperature), but adds two more layers of information to the monitoring process: baby’s sleep quality, and a “rollover alert” that notifies parents if a child has rolled facedown (widely considered a risk factor for unexplained infant death). Another similarity to the Scout? Owlet is crowdfunded and halfway to its goal with 20 days left of the campaign at press time.

“Every parent knows what it’s like to lay in bed and stress about whether your child is breathing,“ says Jacob Colvin, Owlet Founder and father of two.  “Hearing my sick child wheezing all night long because of serious RSV is one of the hardest experiences I have ever had, knowing I couldn’t do anything for her.  If we can help one parent or one child, all our effort would be worth it.”


Owlet Baby Monitors use LED light technology cleverly hidden in a baby sock to deliver information via Bluetooth to mom or dad’s smartphone. The data is then pushed to the cloud and available on any internet-connected device. Owlet’s iPhone app is complete, and the Android version will be ready by the product’s anticipated ship date of November, 2014. Its batteries are rechargeable, and the sock can be washed once the electronics have been pulled out.


Owlet’s site (http://www.owletcare.com/) suggests that the monitor can increase peace of mind through access to information:

  • Less stress equals a longer and more full life. Our goal at Owlet is to give you one less thing to stress about.
  • Bringing a new child home from the hospital is the beginning of your adventure into the new world of parenting. You feel such a strong love and connection to you new child, it’s no wonder many parents stress and worry about their children’s health. We can ease this stress by arming you with information.
  • Knowledge gives you the power to overcome the worry that accompanies this new life adventure.

What are your thoughts? Could Owlet soothe parents’ frayed nerves by providing access to information that used to require a doctor’s visit to receive? Can it act as a “voice” for those too young to speak up for themselves? Or will it fuel the paranoia that comes along with too much information and too little training to know what to make of it? Can tracking technology infringe upon parents’ abilities to intuitively assess their children’s behavior?

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Aubrie-Ann Jones is a student in the Master’s Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. She holds an MFA in Fiction from The New School, and a BA in Anthropology from Fordham University. Aubrie is hoping to promote Narrative Medicine training in both medical schools and in the clinical environment after graduation, and to continue to explore the patient/clinician relationship, particularly in trauma care. She is a writer, traveler, advocate, teacher, and runner who is currently heading up Operations and Leadership & Development at a boutique executive search firm that builds teams for NYC-based tech startups. Twitter: @aaj1026