Mattel acquires baby health wearable maker Sproutling

By Aditi Pai

Mattel, a toy manufacturing giant based in Segundo, California, acquired San Francisco-based Sproutling, which has developed a health sensing wearable device for babies. Mattel also acquired all the assets of Fuhu, which is best known for developing a suite of tablets for children and their families. Fuhu filed for bankruptcy last year after raising more than $100 million from various big name investors. The Sproutling deal's term remain undisclosed but Mattel acquired Fuhu's assets for about $21 million, according to a report in Fortune.

"Mattel's mission is to be the recognized leader in play, learning and development worldwide, and our acquisitions of both Fuhu and Sproutling represent a meaningful step toward achieving that goal," Mattel Global Head of Strategic Development and M&A Sid Mathur said in a statement. "These acquisitions strengthen our digital and smart technology capabilities, and they create ample opportunities to develop and bring to market new technology-enabled play and learning products, based on Mattel's established portfolio of global consumer brands for children and families."

Sproutling has raised at least $6.5 million total to date. Its most recent round was disclosed in an SEC filing last year. The company’s investors include First Round Capital, Forerunner Ventures, FirstMark Capital, Accelerator Ventures, Lemnos Labs, BoxGroup, and Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning. The company will still sell its offering under the Sproutling brand, but the team at Sproutling will also work with Mattel to design and develop new products under Mattel’s brand.

Sproutling has developed a health sensing device that a baby wears around their ankle. The device measures heart rate, skin temperature, motion, and the baby's position. It also sends this data to a companion app on the user's phone and lets parents know if the baby is sleeping soundly or if there is some kind of issue. The app predicts when the baby will wake up, too. And when the baby does wakes up, the app relays whether the baby is calm, fussy, or angry. 

The device can be inserted into one of three ankle straps so that it still fits as the baby grows. Sproutling's wireless charger is also equipped with sensors that monitor the baby's environment -- room temperature, humidity, as well as sound and light levels -- to help parents improve their baby's sleep.

The device retails for $299, but the site currently shows that its sold out. Users area able to put their name in for a device on the waitlist.

In addition to the tablets that Fuhu sells, the company also offers an activity tracking device, called Nabi Complete. The devices allow children and their families to take part in activity challenges. Users can set distance goals, and participate in challenges, like traveling the length of the Brooklyn Bridge or the National Mall Loop. Users can also choose a nutrition-focused goal and compete to burn the calories most calories from of junk food, like pizza, burgers, and cupcakes.

Another company developing a smart health device for babies worn on the foot, Owlet, raised $7 million in August 2015 for its offering. The company’s total funding stands at around $9.2 million. 

Other companies that offer health tracking tools for babies include UK company BlueMaestro with its “smart pacifier” and Boston-based Rest Devices, which raised $1.2 million for its health tracking onesie called Mimo.