Meet the Startup Striving to Keep a Snug Pulse on Infant Safety

Michelle Blanchard woke up late one night to an alarm going off, alerting her late that her 2-month-old infant had low oxygen levels. Michelle picked up her baby, who was silent and bluish in color, and began pounding on her baby's back, clearing her airway of built-up mucus. Baby Pia finally let out a scream and started breathing again. The alarm that alerted Blanchard was the Owlet Baby Monitor, a new monitor that uses hospital technology--pulse oximetry--to alert parents if their baby stops breathing.

Blanchard's story is one of many being shared by parents who use the Owlet monitor, which just started shipping to the public in October following two years of product development and rigorous safety testing. Unintentional suffocation a leading cause of injury death among U.S. children under the age of one and the Owlet team is aiming to combat this and revolutionize the way we care for our infants.

The Owlet team, a startup based in Provo, Utah, miniaturized this hospital technology into a baby sock to alert parents if their baby's oxygen levels and heart rate are out of range and they are having difficulty breathing. The Owlet Monitor, which is a sock worn on the baby's foot that communicates with a base station via Bluetooth 4.0, is 1/100th the size and 1/10th the cost of the hospital pulse oximeter, and it's wireless. The base station is also designed to send alerts to parents' smartphones via Wi-Fi, allowing parents to check baby's vitals from down the hall, across town or around the world.

"The Owlet sock is cute and snuggly, but it's also serious technology and is as accurate as the monitors they use in the hospital, according to clinical accuracy studies," said Kurt Workman, Owlet's CEO and co-founder. "Stories like Michelle's, and those of other parents that have shared their similar experiences, are the reason my team and I set out three years ago to take this idea from concept to a product on the market. We knew there had to be a better solution out there."

Owlet will file for FDA clearance in December to create a medical version of the monitor that can be used in hospitals and for diagnostic purposes.

Owlet is creating the largest set of infant data that has ever existed that will enable researchers and clinicians worldwide to see babies in ways they've never been able to, through detailed data about their health. Owlet's founders, as well as its supporters, believe it will change the world of infant medical research and provide incredible outcomes.

Jordan Monroe is co-founder of Owlet Baby Care, which created the Owlet Monitor. Jordan is the proud father of a one-year-old son.