Owlet Baby Care, a tech startup has raised $7 million of which, $6 million is raised from series A round of funding and the balance $1 million is a grant from government NIH (National Institute of Health). This new funds have increased the total funds of the company to $9.2 million.
Founded in 2013 by Jordan Monroe, Kurt Workman and Zack Bomsta, the startup Owlet has developed smart socks for observing and monitoring the vital signs of the baby. The sensor-built sock makes use of the pulse oximetery to study the blood oxygen levels and heart rate of the infants and transfers the data through cloud to the smartphone app. Since this is not a medical device or a clinical grade oximeter, it does not have to be abide by the FDA rules.
The working mechanism of this device is quite simple. The pulse oximetry works through small LED lights shown on the infant that reflects lights to the photo receptor. Depending on the amount of light return to the photo receptor, the device decides whether its normal or has to be intimated via app. The phone app has lights and buzzers to alert any halt in the breathing.
Placed between the consumer and medical devices, Owlet target at the parents whose sick infants are vulnerable under the life-threatening circumstances. A study by Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that in a year around 3500 cases of sudden unexpected death in children who are less than a year. This little device aims to reduce the number by intimating the parents or the doctor on the right time.
The series A funding round was led by Formation8 (F8) along with Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes. Previous investors that include Azimuth Ventures, ffvc, Eniac Ventures and Peak Capital also funded in this round.
“Being a baby product, safety and dependability have been top priority. We have been testing extensively with our hardware on live babies since last August. We just passed the 1 billion heartbeats recorded this month. We are beginning accuracy studies on the product and have units at Seattle Children’s hospital with IRB approval,” said Monroe, co-founder of Owlet.
Monroe also added, “There is no way that we could have raised our funds without pushing the entire company to the sole focus of creating an amazing products for parent. Our new investor, Lior, was able to use the Owlet with his baby, as well as all of our competitors’ products and he fell in love with the Owlet Monitor. That was the biggest factor in making this investment happen.”
With the funding announcement, the company plans to make the smart sock available in public soon. Some users do already have the device, since it was crowdfunded in 2013 campaign that raised $227,000 and those who funded early have grabbed a device. The device is soon to hit the markets at the rate of $250 per piece.