Parenting Technology in the 21st Century

MimoA new age of parenting is upon us. An interesting new parenting product has just hit the market in February 2014! Mimo is a smart baby monitor that is built into an onesie, designed to track and send a baby’s respiration, temperature, sleep patterns, body positioning, and movements. The new technology is equipped with an Intel chip and low energy Bluetooth that connects to a smart phone application.

My first reaction: wow?! This must be a product geared to “techie” parents or those whose infants who require their vitals to be recorded at home for close tracking by a pediatrician or neonatologist. Upon further exploration, this does not appear to be the market that is being solicited to purchase this new product at this time.

The video clip that can be found on the homepage of their website (Mimo Baby), has the look and feel of one of the many pharmaceutical commercials that run frequently on television. The mother who appears to be a stay-at-home mom is said to be suffering from “mommy brain” due to her frequent trips to the nursery to check on her sleeping baby. The Mimo onesie claims to: “bring relief from heavy, anxious feeling; clear and accurate information; allow you to wake refreshed and energized”. Initially, these seem like very ambitious claims, but ones that certainly are attractive to weary new parents.

I happen to believe this product has much greater potential than what it is currently on the market for. This monitor that captures infant vital signs has the prospective to address at home close observation of high risk populations of infants such as those who are premature, at high risk for SIDS, febrile seizures, and delayed physiological development, to name a few. New research opportunities for use in hospitals could decrease the time infants are connected to medical device wires and separated from parents, as well as increase the amount of “rooming in” during the hospital stay.

Many questions still remain weather this product will in fact decrease parent stress and anxiety, increase parental sleep, and provide clear information. There is a possibility that more information might in fact heighten parents’ anxiety. For those who are not educated on infant sleep patterns and normal, natural fluctuations in an infant’s respiration and temperature, they might be exposed to too much unnecessary information which could lead to false alarm.

Importantly, the company does address safety and security on its FAQ section of the website. They indicate that no personal information is stored on any of their networks and the transmission of information from the microchip to the phone application is quite safe. I would want to learn more about the risk for the data transmission to be hacked or tampered with. Certainly safety and security should be of utmost importance, especially as it relates to private health information.

Currently this product is being sold directly from the company and through Babies-R-Us for a steep price of $199.99. This speaks to the clientele this product is drawing and the barrier it poses for low income families, who undoubtedly are just as concerned and suffering from just as many sleepless nights.

I look forward to watching how this product continues to diffuse into the market and the potential it continues to draw.

What are your reactions? What kinds of benefits and challenges do you think this might contribute to in the field of parenting? Do you think this has the potential to flood the market? Or will it stay a high end, luxury product unattainable to many?

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