Health-sensing smart sock for babies, Owlet raises $1.85M

By Brian Dolan
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OwletProvo-based newborn wearable device maker Owlet has raised $1.85 million in funding from a mix of investors that included R/GA, Techstars, Azimuth Ventures, Life Sciences Angel Network, Utah-based Peak Ventures, Eniac Ventures, ff Ventures, Brand Band Project and John Ason, an early investor in Diapers.com, according to a report from Dow Jones.

Owlet did not respond to a request for more information by press time.

Owlet crowdfunded its ankle-worn, health sensing sock for babies last year. It raised about $300,000 from supporters to build the device, which will connect to parent's smartphones via Bluetooth 4.0 (low energy).

The "smart sock" is intended to be worn by the baby as they sleep, and it tracks heart rate, skin temperature, blood oxygenation, and sleep data that is transmitted to the cloud and accessible through an app on the parent's phone or via any internet-connected device through a web portal. The wearable is rechargeable and it sends an alert to the parent's phone when the juice is running low. The smart sock also offers a "roll alert" for parents of newborns concerned that their baby might roll over onto their stomach, which can sometimes obstruct their breathing. As long as the app is running in the background on the parent's phone, they can get these alerts. 

Like most crowdfunded, health-focused hardware startups, Owlet has already missed its original delivery date -- November 2013 -- by a number of months. While the Owlet device currently has given no new specific date for shipment of the devices its crowdfunding supporters preordered, the company reports that it has managed to slim the device down considerably from the prototypes shown in the crowdfunding campaign. Owlet plans to reopen orders to buyers and ship that second batch of the wearable device later this summer, which means it hopes to send the first batch out before the end of the summer. Owlet has already completed an iOS app and it says an Android companion app should be ready by the time it ships the device too. Owlet's smart sock will retail for about $250.

Owlet is also not shying away from FDA clearance for future iterations of the baby monitor, which the company hopes to start piloting at hospitals later this year. It hopes to secure FDA clearance sometime in 2015.

Owlet's CEO Kurt Workman also told Dow Jones that the company aims to make $2 million in sales during its first year.

Owlet is part of a growing number of startups focused on digital health devices for new parents and their babies. MobiHealthNews recently wrote about British company BlueMaestro's "smart pacifier" and Boston-based Rest Devices recently announced a $1.2 million investment round of its own for an Owlet-like device called Mimo. Croatian company iDerma offered up a health-sensing stuffed animal last year and, of course, there are a number of "smart diaper" projects, like Pixie Scientific's.