Owlet raises $15M for baby monitoring smart sock, plans NIH study

By Heather Mack
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Utah-based Owlet Baby Care, which makes the Owlet Smart Sock that monitors infants’ breathing and heart rate, has raised $15 million through venture funding and a collaborator role grant from the National Institutes of Health. The round included new investors Trilogy Equity Partners and the Amazon Alexa Fund, plus existing investors Eclipse and Eniac. This brings the company’s total funding to $25 million.

Correction: A previous version of this story suggested that the NIH gave a grant directly to Owlet. In actuality, Owlet was awarded a $100,000 subcontract as the performance site for a grant issued to Advanced Medical Electronics Corporation.

Owlet’s offering is a tiny smart sock that fits onto a baby’s foot, intended to be worn while sleeping. It tracks heart rate, skin temperature, blood oxygenation and sleep data, which is all transmitted to the cloud and accessible through an iOS or Android app on the parent’s smartphone, or any other connected device through a web portal. It has a rechargeable battery that alerts parents via their smartphone when it is running low. The sock also connects with an independent base station that operates even without WiFi and can acts as a primary alert center, so parents do not have to rely on the app for notifications. 

The funding includes Owlet's role as the commercialization partner on $1.5 million grant from the NIH to further infant health research. Since 2015, Owlet has been a collaborator on two $1.5 million grants from the NIH, and the company will soon launch a clinical study to collect infant health data. Also in 2017, Owlet will release a connected care feature that gives users enhanced data access and sharing capabilities.

Owlet’s vision is to gather as much infant health data as possible and expand into retail and international distribution. The company does not yet have FDA clearance for the device, nor is it intended to replace a hospital-grade pulse oximeter or for use on critically ill infants. Rather, it aims to give parents peace of mind for basic health indicators as well as a rolling alert if the baby rolls over during sleep, which could potentially obstruct breathing. With the new investors, Owlet aims to expand its connection capabilities across multiple devices.

“Owlet is a key component for the connected nursery and we are excited about supporting the company with an investment that helps propel it forward and support its mission,” Steve Rabuchin, Amazon Alexa’s vice president said in a statement. “We look forward to the future opportunities to integrate Owlet with Alexa, empowering parents with the incredible data and information provided by Owlet.”

Previously, the company raised $7 million, prior to its launch in October 2015.