The Nanny Bear

Nanny Bear: the cute, smart baby monitor

Professor Hans Guesgen

Dr Rachel Blagojevic

Baby monitors have gone high-tech thanks to a prototype developed by Massey University’s School of Engineering and Advanced Technology. The Nanny Bear is a teddy bear fitted with sensors which detect ambient temperature, humidity, brightness and sound intensity – all in a cute, fluffy package.

The bear connects to an application on the parent’s phone or tablet device which alerts them when, for example, it gets too hot, humid, bright or loud. These warnings continue to pop up every five minutes until the problem is resolved.

As well as monitoring, Nanny Bear has a light-emitting diode (LED) that can fade as the baby falls asleep and a speaker to play a lullaby at the same time. It can also store and graph information from the last day so parents can monitor how the temperature changed in the baby’s room overnight or how well baby slept.

The bear was developed by two students, Audrey Loiseau and Ben Lancinot, who are visiting Massey University from ESEO Institute of Science and Technology in France. Working together with Chair in Computer Science Professor Hans Guesgen and Lecturer in Information Technology Dr Rachel Blagojevic, they saw potential in a simple module system.

“The module could originally be used as a weather station” explains Ms Loiseau, “but we wanted it to have a more practical application.”

She says her and Ben’s expertise are perfectly matched. “I really enjoy developing the front-end applications, whereas Ben likes the hardware side of things. This project let us do both.”

Project co-leader Dr Blagojevic says this technology goes way beyond the traditional baby monitor. “As well as telling you about the state of your baby at a particular time, you might find the room gets quite humid or cold at night, as is often the case with kiwi homes. Nanny Bear gives you this information so you can do something about it.”

“Also, a lot of my friends are doing sleep training. You could use Nanny Bear to find out when and for how long your baby was awake at night.”

Currently, Nanny Bear is a prototype but Professor Guesgen says there is potential to commercialise it after further research has been done.

“The aim is to make the app more intelligent, for example by enabling it to learn certain behavioural patterns.” Professor Guesgen says. “For instance, if the parents always react to the baby making noise for more than a few minutes by switching on the night light and playing a lullaby, the app could perform these actions automatically.”

“There are also a lot of open human-computer interaction issues that have to be researched (like which information should be displayed and how, how to best control Nanny Bear, and so on). The latter is where Rachel's expertise comes in, while I am more interested in making the app act in an intelligent way."

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