o the uninformed viewer it has a touch of the straitjacket about it, but according to its makers this “smart crib” is based on sound paediatric advice. Called a Snoo, the cot is a collaboration between Yves Behar, the designer of Jawbone, a wristband that tracks movement and sleep, and Dr Harvey Karp, an LA paediatrician and the author of The Happiest Baby on the Block.
Karp argues that human babies are born less developed than other mammals and the first three months of life are, in effect, a “fourth trimester”. It follows that his method for promoting a restful baby is to recreate a womblike experience. He recommends employing “the five Ss” to soothe a crying infant: swaddling, side/stomach positioning, shushing, swinging and sucking. His methods are controversial: critics claim there is no evidence for his concept of a “calming reflex”, but this hasn’t stopped the paediatrician earning celebrity endorsements from, among others, Michelle Pfeiffer and Madonna.
Behar’s fuseproject design studio worked with Karp for five years to develop a cot to soothe crying babies, and the result is, according to Behar, the “world’s safest bed”.
The crib has three microphones to detect if the baby is crying, and underneath the mattress are movement sensors, speakers and a motor. These devices combine to detect noise and movement, and then trigger white noise and/or a gentle rocking movement until the baby drifts back to sleep. The Snoo sack contains a built-in sensor to monitor the baby’s temperature and is designed to mimic the “snug embrace” of the womb, while allowing sufficient soothing movement. The onesie is, of course, removable for washing.
Naturally, no smart cot would be complete without its own app. Parents can monitor their child’s sleep using the Snoo app and fuseproject promises that future updates will allow parents to track their baby’s sleep habits over time for signs of progression or irregularities. The aim is not only to improve the infant’s sleep but that of its parents.
As Behar says, “As a father of four children, I am intimately familiar with sleep deprivation. It is more than a burden – it can quickly become a health problem for both parents and the baby.”