Cocoon Cam raises $4M for video-based smart baby monitor

By Heather Mack

It’s impossible to watch a baby at all times, no matter how little sleep new parents get. But that doesn’t stop parents from trying to keep tabs on their child at any time of day or night, meaning the market for smart baby monitoring products isn’t slowing down. The latest to raise funding in this space is Silicon Valley-based Cocoon Cam, which just closed $4 million in Series A led by Happiness Ventures. Previously, the company raised a little more than $1 million, and will use the latest investment continue developing, marketing and selling their smart video camera-based monitor.

Unlike several other smart baby monitoring products out there, such as Owlet, Sproutling or Neebo, Cocoon Cam is not a wearable. Instead, the product passively collects a baby’s vital signs with a motion-detecting video camera that syncs to a smartphone app. Using computer vision technology, the $149.99 Cocoon Cam senses periods of low or high movement or when the baby is out of the crib and alerts parents via the app. It also offers streaming audio to keep running with the app minimized, so parents can listen in regardless of whatever else they may be doing on their smartphone.

“The idea for Cocoon Cam came about with the birth of my daughter. Experiencing first-hand the combination of excitement and anxiety of being a new parent, it was clear that knowing your baby is safe and sleeping well are priceless,” Cocoon Cam CEO Sivakumar Nattamai said in a statement. “Instantly checking on your baby with visual and analytical confirmation of the child’s vital signs is the first of many advances we have planned to modernize the outdated baby monitor market.”

While connected infant companies tout their devices as providing peace of mind for parents, an editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this year suggested that the devices have shown no evidence of a medical benefit -- and they might actually be harmful by causing parents undue alarm. 

That study mostly dealt with wearable baby monitors, however, which directly measure vital signs like heart rate and respiration. Cocoon Cam, on the other hand, uses computer vision to deduce whether a baby is breathing based on small chest movements. According to the company, the detection works even through a blanket or when a baby is swaddled. The company has completed IRB-approved research validation studies of this technology at the University of California San Diego and the NICU of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

“Closing this round of funding with Happiness Ventures enables us to continue to fulfill our vision of measuring human vital signs in a non-invasive way; something that brings invaluable peace of mind to parents,” the company’s CTO and cofounder Pavan Kumar said in a statement. “Our mission is to develop and roll out product innovations and functionalities that revolutionize the way parents intelligently monitor their babies, keeping their health and wellbeing as our top concern.”

Cocoon Cam launched in February of this year and it is currently available on the company’s website as well as Amazon and HSN. Next month, it will be for sale at 300 Target stores nationwide as well as online, and 225 Babies “R” Us stores around the United States.

"We are thrilled to lead Cocoon Cam’s Series A and proud to be working with such a passionate team. Their compelling vision for health monitoring of infants with groundbreaking new computer vision algorithms is a great fit for our portfolio,” Curtis MacDonald and Ajay Ramachandran of Happiness Ventures said in a statement. “Happiness Ventures is all about investing in true-believer founders working on revolutionary concepts, something Cocoon Cam’s team has convincingly demonstrated over the time we’ve known them.”