If biosensor onesies sound absurd, consider the plethora of baby gadgetry that's hit the market in recent years: speakers for babies, tweeting for babies, clothing that changes color to reveal babies' moods.
Then consider a few scenarios: parents concerned about babysitter vigilance; mothers going back to work; that several-month window in which babies are at the highest risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
So while Exmovere Holdings, the maker of Exmobaby--supposedly the first baby garment to remotely monitor vital signs and behavior--may be guilty of preying on parents' worst fears, its rather futuristic onesie could also save lives.
CEO David Bychkov explains how it works:
Each Exmobaby onesie will come with a baby-safe, rechargeable Zigbee wireless transceiver that snaps into a pouch. From there, the data is transmitted to a nearby PC or cell phone in order to keep parents and other caregivers informed of a baby's status. This continuous monitoring in real time will allow for an "emotional umbilical cord" between mother and child.
The Zigbee wireless standard uses a wireless local area network (LAN) and is targeted at radio frequency applications requiring lower data rate and battery life. It's also compatible with a wide range of USB and mini SD-slot dongle devices, i.e. cell phones.
Parents or caretakers wanting to check in on a baby via cell phone or computer will see icons that represent the baby's heart rate, as well as "emotional state" and "behavior," categories the company admits are less exact. But Exmovere compares its software to voice recognition software, where accuracy increases over time as person-specific data compiles.
The first 1,000 onesies are scheduled to ship to select buyers from the Exmobaby waiting list in early 2011. Each kit will include an Exmobaby garment set (in, yes, blue or pink), a Zigbee transceiver, PC and cell phone monitoring software, and six months of online service. The company has not yet released pricing details.
Of course, babies aren't the only target market when it comes to wearable sensors. Think of elderly relatives in nursing homes. Suspicious lovers. International spies. Teenagers who just got a license to drive. For better or worse, the ability to monitor one another continues to improve.
Exmovere Holdings, by the way, is a biomedical engineering company in McLean, Va., whose slogan is, "We Know How You Feel." I can't decide which is worse: the slogan itself, which is just creepy, or the fact that they (apparently) know it is creepy and opted to run with it anyway.