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Owlet's smart baby monitor can save lives while looking cute

Think of it as an early warning system for your kid.
Chris Velazco, @chrisvelazco
January 7, 2016
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Most startups crow about saving people time or money — Provo, Utah-based Owlet, on the other hand, is part of an exclusive club that wants to save lives. After a successful crowdfunding campaign and a beta testing push, Owlet recently released its washable, wearable baby monitor to the masses in hopes that its heart tracking abilities could help few the youngest of young ones succumb to ailments like SIDS.​

Gallery: Owlet hands-on | 7 Photos

The monitor itself is a cute little cloth booty with a teensy pulse oximeter to track your baby's heart rate and measure how much oxygen is in their blood. Oh, and it's cute too. All the information the sock collects gets relayed back to your smartphone via a Bluetooth connection and a small, puck-like base station with edges that goes from green to red if the baby's health starts to get questionable. And just to make sure Junior doesn't have to stop using the Owlet after a few month, the company tosses a three sizes into the box to accommodate kids up to 18 months old.

Owlet can't legally make medical claims until the FDA has finished evaluating their work, but they've got no shortage of anecdotes about how the monitor has already helped parents. Sadly, I can't reproduce them here, but VP Chris Stroud told me there have been "dozens of stories where [their] device allowed parental intervention in potentially hazardous situations". The team has also seen nearly 6 billion heartbeats on six continents tracked since Owlet fired up its beta program last year. That sounds pretty impressive, but know this: the Owlet is not meant to replace regular doctor's visits. I spent a little time playing with the Owlet, and works best as an early warning system — once that light goes red, it's up to the parent to go in there and figure out what's going on.

Despite the years of work that have gone into the Owlet, it seem like just the tip of an iceberg. Stroud briefly alluded to a line of interconnected baby tracking gear, but for now this startup has to deal with one big issue at a time. In this case, it's inking the deals to get the Owlet into a baby store hear you, a process that's apparently all but official.

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