How A Product Honed At TechShop Went On To Save The Lives Of 87,000 Babies

For thousands of babies born too early to regulate their own body temperature, the Embrace Warmer blanket has been a lifesaver. And part of the product's effectiveness is the improvements made on the technology at TechShop, a "playground for creativity" that offers shared access to more than $1 million in professional equipment, including laser cutters, electronics labs and more.

HuffPost Live's Nancy Redd spoke to TechShop co-founder Mark Hatch on Friday about how the spirit of collaboration made the technology even better. When the team behind the Embrace Warmer showed up at one of TechShop's locations across the country, they benefited from the expertise of other creatives who were working there.

"When they came in to Menlo Park and they started talking about what it is they were doing, other chemical scientists came alongside of them and improved the functionality of the blanket by 900 percent," Hatch said. "It's actually saved 87,000 babies' lives. And they'll tell you the key piece of that was the fact that they were able to extend the range, and that came through interactions within the community."

Find out more about the Embrace Warmer in the video above, and click here to watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about TechShop.

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They Can Tell Good From Evil
Using puppets that act out good and bad behaviors, Yale's Baby Lab has been studying infant ethics for decades.

In one experiment, a cat puppet was struggling to open a box when a bunny puppet in a green t-shirt came along and helped him. The puppet masters then re-did the scenario with a bunny puppet in an orange t-shirt who cruelly slammed the box shut and ran away.

The lab's studies revealed that over 80 percent of babies under 24 months showed a preference for the puppet that demonstrates good behavior -- the helpful bunny in the green shirt. With 3-month-olds, the number increased to 87%.
They Have A Sense Of Self-Control
A 2014 study published in the journal Cognitive Development looked at 150 15-month-olds. The babies watched an adult demonstrate how to use several noise-making toys. Then, a second adult entered the room and angrily scolded the first for making so much noise.

After the demonstration, the babies were welcome to play with the toys, but for half of them, the angry second adult left the room or turned away, while the latter half remained under that adult's gaze.

Babies in the former group did not hesitate to start playing with the toys, but the ones in the second group generally waited a little bit and then played with the toys differently than they'd seen in the demonstration. This indicated that they were trying to adjust their actions to avoid the anger of the second adult -- therefore, they are able to resist their impulses and show self-control.
Foreign Languages Sound … Well, Foreign To Them
Mere hours after their birth, babies can sense the difference between sounds in their native language and a foreign one.

Researchers in Sweden and Washington state studied 40 newborns wearing pacifiers that were wired to a computer. When the babies heard sounds from foreign languages, they sucked the pacifiers for much longer than when they heard their native tongue -- this indicates that they could differentiate between the two.

According to researcher Patricia Kuhl, "The vowel sounds in [the mother's] speech are the loudest units and the fetus locks onto them."
They’re Tuned In To Each Other’s Emotions
By the time they reach 5 months, babies are able to sense each other's feelings.

In a BYU 2013 study, 20 5-month-old babies and 20 3.5-month-old babies sat in front of two monitors, which showed a video of a smiling baby and a video of a frowning baby. Then the scientists played two audio recordings: one of happy baby and one of a sad baby.

Upon hearing the the sounds of the happy baby, the 5-month-olds looked at the monitor with the smiling baby, and when they heard the sad baby audio, they turned to the frowning baby video. The 3.5-month old babies were less successful in matching these sounds and images.
Their Ears Register More Words From Mom Than Dad
A recent study published in Pediatrics found that infants react more to words from moms than from dads. All 33 babies in the study wore sound-recording vests which revealed that they heard three times more words from moms than from dads.

A researcher from the study, Dr. Betty Vohr, told Time that "a possible explanation is that the pitch of mother’s voice or its proximity is more stimulating for babies."
They Have The Ability To Learn Sign Language
Although babies generally don't start speaking their first few words until 12 months old and still have a limited vocabulary by age 2, they have the ability to develop an impressive mastery of sign language from the age of 6 months.

After noticing that the children of his deaf friends were communicating with their families with sign language from a very early age, Dr. Joseph Garcia founded the "Sign With Your Baby" program in which instructors teach parents and babies American Sign Language.
And, They Can Read Lips
A 2012 study showed that babies read people's lips when they're learning to talk.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University observed almost 180 babies at ages 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 months and studied their behavior when they saw videos of adults speaking. The experiment showed that when babies are about 6 months old, they stop looking into adults’ eyes and start focusing on their lips to learn how to make sounds.

So next time you’re in the presence of a lip-reading baby, you might want to be a little more mindful about what you say.

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