Baby products have always been part of a predatory industry that feasts on the paranoia of new parents. But it's gotten worse in the last few years with the wave of baby-tracking tech. Now Nest -- which makes a camera which is one of the top-rated baby monitors -- is proposing a smart crib, according to patent documents filed by Google. Patent drawing for Nest's smart crib concept
Case in point: The "Sproutling" for baby convicts
A Nest smart crib would join hundreds of devices that track breathing and movement and crying and pooping (via Bluetooth, even). There are baby LoJacks that you're supposed to slip around your infant's ankle like the world's tiniest celebrity on house arrest.
The sensor-laden baby gaol would be able to not only send you streaming HD video of your infant, but also monitor and in some cases take proactive steps to improve the health and well-being of said infant. And all of this information will be dispatched in a timely fashion to nearby smartphones and tablets, where it will undoubtedly degrade the mental health and well-being of the infant's parents.
Here's how it would work. A suite of sensors embedded in the crib frame, mattress and nursery door would work together to keep tabs on the "occupant condition". Which basically means sending you notifications if your baby does... anything:
For example, a child being awake (e.g., based on motion sensor and pressure sensor data), crying (e.g., based on a microphone), a noxious compound such as carbon monoxide (e.g., based on an air sensor), a dirty diaper (e.g., based on air sensor), an illness (e.g., vomit detected by air sensor), heart palpitations detected (e.g., by pressure sensor), unusual lack of movement (e.g., based on a motion sensor), an unusual by temperature (e.g., by a temperature sensor and/or a thermal imaging camera), coughing or sneezing (e.g., by motion capture camera and/or a microphone), etc.
The crib would also intervene if -- God forbid -- your baby wakes up. It's loaded up with projectors and speakers to throw on a soothing laser-light show:
For example, if the child is crying, the projector may activate and display some cartoon animals on the ceiling. The projection may be accompanied by music played at a volume that is determined based on the ambient level of sound detected in the room by the microphone and/or the time of day.
There's even an automatic snooze button, for parents who would rather not get up so gosh darn early:
As another example, in the morning, the child may wake up usually at 6:00 AM and the client device may provide instruction to the crib to emit an orange LED colour with some music played at a low volume level. Upon learning the client device's routine instructions for the time of day and detected event, the crib may automatically perform the requested feature.
Finally, a robot that can soothe our babies back to sleep!
Excessively complicated flow chart for Nest's patent filing for a "smart crib"
A smart crib is a way to get parents to shell out hundreds more dollars on what is already a very expensive investment that's quite stressful to purchase, especially in an era when so much furniture is being recalled. But it won't bring peace of mind -- it will no doubt make parents more worried and overprotective than they already are. Plus, a smart crib gives parents even more opportunities to worry when it inevitably doesn't work.
While the product itself is horrible for all the reasons I just mentioned, there's also another reason this particular smart crib might not be a good investment - assuming you're even in a country where Nest is available (sorry, Australia). When you look at how often Nest has been going offline, or suffering random battery failures, or discontinuing support for complementary tech, there's a very real concern your crib could get bricked. How will you possibly know if your baby is crying then?