Babies are a miracle of nature. They are also a budding market for entrepreneurs in the smart-tech market. And BabyBit, a sensor that attaches to an infant’s clothes, takes child care to its logical, connected-future extreme.
Unlike traditional baby monitors that provide raw video or audio, BabyBit uses mobile technology to notify parents of specific events, says founder Brian Ostrovsky, a former Intel executive.
Parents can receive alerts about an array of environmental factors connected to the child's well-being: e.g., the baby's surroundings, including air temperature and location, and whether or not she is asleep.
The device can also be programmed to notify parents if they have left their infants in the car — an astonishly common practice. BabyBit will activate the airconditioning or heat to make sure the baby is safe until an adult returns to the vehicle. The startup is a member of Portland's Jaguar Land Rover tech incubator — an inspired partnership — and Ostrovsky hopes the system will eventually be integrated into automobiles.
Babybit launched in June on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform and, by the end of the month, had captured close to $19,000 of its $50,000 goal. Parents can add as many caregivers as needed within the iOS or Android app.
Will BabyBit’s all-surveillance, all-thetime sensibility foster fear and paranoia in the parenting set? (the app can tell parents whether or not babies are crying and how far away they are from their babysitter.)
“I understand what you are saying,” says Ostrovsky, who credits a bad experience with his children's provider as inspiration for the new technology. “But parents want a safe, happy baby, and they want to know their caregiver is doing a good job.”
"Empathy happens when we immerse ourselves in another’s life and construct an accurate view of their challenges, desires, and struggles; when we focus on what it feels like to be them.
Deep empathy is a critical component to success in life, let alone at work. The intent of business is to create and give value to others, to satisfy their needs.
It's important to make the distinction between consumers and customers. At Meriwether, we abide by the phrase, “consumer-focused and customer-aware.” Nike’s consumer, for example, is the athlete. Their customer, however, is Foot Locker or Finish Line.
Embracing empathy allows you to deeply connect with your consumers.
Consider Nike: Their consumer groups might range from the elite Olympic athlete to the urban, African-American male between 12 and 16 years old to the soccer mom. Each group is vastly different from one other, but you have to recognize all of them. Find out where they shop, what magazines they read, what they like to eat, what makes them happy and so on. Get into the depths of who they are, and let that inform decision-making.
If Nike has a talented footwear designer who makes kick-ass basketball shoes for urban, inner-city African-American males between 12-16 years old, and she puts that shoe in suburban Foot Lockers and assigns her marketing team to promote the shoe in ESPN Magazine, the shoe won’t sell.
Everyone would say: “Wow, that’s bizarre, the shoe was beautiful — why didn’t it sell?” No matter if she nailed the shoe, the designer didn’t use empathy to connect with her consumers. If she had, she would have understood that these 12- to - 16 year olds don’t go to malls in suburbia or read ESPN Magazine.
It’s critical to allow empathy to steward the decisions you make as they relate to your consumer."
David Howitt is the CEO of the Meriwether Group
Where they are now
Eight thousand five hundred pounds of basil grown on 320 square feet. That’s the amount of fresh produce Eric Wilson, CEO of Klamath Falls-based Grovolution, hopes to wrest from his container farming system in the near future. We profiled Grovolution last year; since then, the company has brought on an electrical engineer to improve efficiencies and landed a new investor, who infused $300,000 into the aeroponics startup. Wilson says he is still working on proof of concept, a project that will move forward with the addition of two custom containers this year.
“Our biggest challenge is the company is so small it can’t compete with farms operating on a scale of hundreds of acres,” he says. “We’re further developing the technology and testing against what we need to be market viable."