Dutch startup Hugsy is developing a smart blanket designed to comfort babies by mimicking a parent’s presence.
It is a well known fact that a child wants to be held from the very first day of life. Touch is a strong communicator of emotions and may be as important as food, going a long way towards boosting a newborn’s healthy development. There is even evidence that brain activity is stronger for kids who receive more tactile attention from their mothers.
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The Hugsy smart baby blanket was initially intended to help babies born too early who need to spend time in the hospital. The concept is based on something called kangaroo care. This is fancy name for skin-to-skin holding sessions which have been shown to be important in development, and result in parents and babies co-regulating their temperature, breathing and heart rate.
“The idea came from a collaboration between the local hospital NICU Maxima Medical Center (MMC) in Veldhoven and the Eindhoven university of technology as MMC was looking for ways to improve patient comfort, and asked the team of industrial designers if they could design something to support those vulnerable babies,” said COO Jody van den Tillaart.
The intelligent blanket mimics some of the features of a parent’s presence including their warmth, smell and unique heartbeat. When a parent cuddle’s a baby, the blanket is hard at work absorbing the parent’s smell and keeping both the parent and baby nice and warm. During these sessions the Hugsy Heartbeat Module can also be used to record a parent’s unique heartbeat, which is stored for playback later on.
But its when the parent is away that the blanket really comes into its own. Hugsy mimics a parent’s soothing presence, by recreating their scent, warmth, and unique heartbeat. This reduces stress, promote deeper sleep and boosts a baby’s development in a number of other ways.
Hugsy can be pre-ordered on hugsycomfort.com starting in October. Shipments are expected to go out by spring 2018, first in the Dutch market and then to other countries. The intelligent blanket is aimed for babies up to three months in age but there will also be a Hugsy Hospital edition designed specifically for premature babies.
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