Smart products are changing the baby products industry
For some time, baby monitors were among some of the most popular consumer technology products, but over the past years, the baby products industry has seen an additional number of innovative products surface. For example, start-up company Wicoz produced Milk Nanny, the world’s first smart baby formula milk maker, which takes about fifteen seconds to measure out the powder and water and heat and de-clump the resulting formula, based on the formula’s pre-inputted specifications and directions . In addition, Fisher Price also chose to differentiate itself by rolling out a 4-in-1 Smart Connect Cradle ‘n Swing, a baby rocker controlled by a smartphone. Using the accompanying app, parents can control the speed, as well as start and stop the cradle from the comfort of their own seats without waking up the baby .
How is Nest Labs trying to create value to differentiate themselves?
Of the many firms currently trying to win the hearts of new parents is Google’s Nest Lab, an interesting example of a company that has recognized and attempted to mitigate the pain points that parents of newborns often face. Exhausted parents around the world have probably fantasized, at some point, about a crib that could automatically rock their crying infants to sleep. And Nest Lab’s recent patent shows just that – a smart baby crib with app connectivity that can help parents monitor their child’s sleep, temperature, and health .
It all started when Nest Labs wondered whether sensors, robotic technology, and artificial intelligence could help babies and their drained parents get more sleep. The result was a smart crib decorated with infrared cameras and sensors to detect daily activities, such as crying and sleeping, alerts for diaper changes, and uncommon movement. In addition, it comes with a LCD/LED monitor that the parents have full control over. The product is essentially a combination of a conventional crib design with an extremely high-end baby monitoring system, but what makes it unique is its use of the sensors that can detect and track the baby’s movement patterns and convert it into useful data .
Unlike most traditional baby monitors that simply keep parents plugged in and reassured, Nest’s smart crib uses the data drawn from the product’s technology and attempts to perform some additional functions that would typically be carried out by parents. For example, a crying baby can be soothed without the parents having to rush over to calm it. When the crib detects that the baby is crying, an attached projector screen will display cartoons, as well as play music played at a volume that is determined based on the level of ambient sound detected in the room by an attached microphone. In addition, sensors can also monitor the air quality in the baby’s room, which can be adjusted accordingly when connected to other consumer technology products (air conditioner, humidifier, air purifier, etc.) .
Concerns going forward. How would new moms actually feel about this?
When Google bought Nest, it acquired the home-temperature-control process of the smart home innovator , and although not yet on the market, this new smart crib patented idea is most likely a part of Google’s larger smart home system. While Nest’s patent doesn’t guarantee that a product will come anytime soon, or at all, the move seems to make sense for the company, as baby-related technology is on the rise, and few major developers have entered the market.
However, as cutting-edge as this technology may be, it poses some challenges to consider before plunging into the market.
. With all of the added technology and features, the crib will be several times more expensive than the retail price of the average crib
. Aside from the steep price point, there is an enormous risk that parents may not actually want these functionalities. Does relinquishing some of their parent duties to a piece of technology diminish their bond with their baby?
. Some parents may raise questions regarding the safety of the crib.
. In addition, while the enhanced capabilities may offer parents some benefits, the complexity of use of the product may actually result in a negative effect.
. The machine will not always be 100% accurate about the reasons that result in the actions it carries out.
Overall, it is exciting that Nest is attempting to incorporate smart baby products into the rest of the smart home system. While there are many risks associated with this opportunity, it will be possible to Nest to mitigate many of them by really taking into account what the customer wants. A potential next step may be to use the gathered data over time to produce custom solutions for the user, so that it seems that the product is growing with the baby, rather than remaining static.
 “Whip Up a Baby Bottle in 15 Seconds With This Smart Machine”, http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/milk-nanny-is-a-smart-baby-bottle-appliance/
 Digital Trends: “Baby Einstein: You Can Control This Smart Baby Rocker From Your Phone”,
 Business Insider: “Google Could Be Working on a Smart Crib..”
 International Business Times: “Google Patent Shows Off Smart Baby Crib..”
 The Statistics Portal: U.S. Baby Care Market, https://www.statista.com/topics/1259/baby-care-market