The baby carrier or ‘baby sling’ is a technology that’s been around for thousands of years. It’s been documented across dozens of cultures with some of the earliest references depicted in Ancient Egyptian artwork.
It goes by many names, but the concept remains the same: a piece of cloth is tied around the shoulders and hips to create a pouch that cradles a young baby on the back or front of a caretaker.
Now, an innovative tech startup – or “micro- small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME)” – is applying the latest technologies to create a “smart” baby carrier that’s having positive impacts for newborn health and their families.
“The baby carrier has been around a long time, and we want to bring it into the 21st century,” says Geta Rasciuc, the founder and CEO of BabyMoon.
Seated with her own infant child in her arms, Rasciuc sat down for an interview with ITU News during the world’s largest startup competition for MSMEs in emerging markets, Seedstars Summit, in Switzerland earlier this year. She discussed her MSME and the social impacts she is having and outlined of the challenges of leading a small business with small children at home.
Rasciuc describes her product as “Kangaroo Care 2.0.” It’s a biomonitoring baby carrier that enables “smarter” parenting and health care for infants, especially for prematurely born babies.
As a “smart baby carrier” it has electronic sensors woven into an “eTextile” that monitor key vital signs of the baby including temperature, heart rate and others.
These sensors collect and send data about the child’s vitals to a smartphone. Then parents can use the BabyMoon app to record the baby’s development and receive personalized parenting suggestions via push notifications. Lastly, the backend system analyzes all this information, recognizes patterns, and generates health reports, which parents can share with care providers.
“I have been doing simple baby carriers for 10 years… and I have been collaborating with parents and neo-natal units at hospitals in Moldova, and I saw a framework of ‘Kangaroo mother care.’ It’s actually a procedure that is recommended by the World Health Organization [that can] help babies that are premature survive, thrive and stay in the hospital for a bit less time, up to three weeks less,” explains Rasciuc.
“The baby carrier has been around a long time, and we want to bring it into the 21st century.” — Geta Rasciuc
“We are now also working in the Netherlands, where we are developing the hardware and integrating the sensing technologies…” Rasciuc is interrupted by her cries from her baby. She smiles and stops for a moment to breastfeed and continues, “we are integrating these sensors into the carrier.”
As a mother of four Rasciuc explains that she is highly aware of the challenges of childcare and how tech can help. And as a self-described feminist, she wants to have a positive impact on other women in the country.
“The product is being sewn in Moldova by women at risk of being trafficked, and I really want to keep the manufacturing there. To keep it in Europe to monitor the conditions, to ensure there is no one sewing in diapers. We are big on ethics and keeping the families together, and not letting those women leave their children who then may be trafficked or sold into slavery.”
Rasciuc is confident that her MSME will have manifold benefits for families and the economy.
As the United Nations holds the second Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day, consider that MSMEs make up over 90% of all firms and account on average for 60-70% of total employment and 50% of GDP, according to UN figures.
Supporting and nurturing a culture conducive to MSMEs success is key for sustained economic growth and ITU is committed to helping MSMEs succeed.
ITU has released a series of studies and reports on Trends in tech MSMEs and startup support and how ICT ministries can support domestic SMEs.
In addition, we are running a pilot project for SMEs to get involved in the work of ITUs Study Groups until the end of 2018.
The annual ITU Telecom World has a dedicated track for MSMEs including awards, support and networking to help small businesses scale up.
To learn more about ITU’s work to support SMEs visit the website.
By Theadora Mills, @theadoramills
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