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Is Rest Devices' baby onesie, designed to monitor infants as they sleep, the cutest tech product in town?

Posted by Scott Kirsner  August 14, 2012 08:00 AM

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Parents hardly think twice about buying a video monitor or movement-sensing pad to make sure their bundle of joy is sleeping soundly through the night.

So what about a onesie embedded with sensors that can report on baby's breathing, temperature, and movement? A Boston startup called Rest Devices hopes to have the product on the market later this year, aiming for a price somewhere between $100 and $200. The package would include three onesies, a small turtle-shaped transmitter that clips onto the front with magnets, and a plug-in base station that would send data from the nursery over a home's WiFi network. (Another option is that the transmitter could communicate directly with a Bluetooth phone.)

The last time I wrote about Rest, the company was known as Nyx Devices and was developing a form-fitting SleepShirt that could help diagnose problems like sleep apnea. CEO Thomas Lipoma says they're still selling a version of that shirt to sleep researchers, but that the onesie is their main focus. (Lipoma is on the right in the photo, with Dulcie Madden, Rest's head of business development.)

"New parents want to know how their baby is doing at all times," says Lipoma. "This can tell you if your baby is on her stomach or her back, if her temperature spikes, if she's moving around, and if she's breathing normally." That last factor, of course, is a major fear for parents, who worry about sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDs.

onesie.jpgThe stretchy green bands on the onesie will collect information about the infant's respiration as her chest rises and falls. Temperature and movement sensors will be built into turtle — which right now is produced by a 3-D printer at Rest's Leather District headquarters — and an audio monitor will be built into the base station. The whole system will be able to send alerts to a mobile phone, or log data from night to night on a website, allowing Mom and Dad to look for trends. "We like to call it 'quantified baby,'" says Madden, referring to the "quantified self" data-gathering movement.

Rest has raised $500,000 in funding so far; Lipoma says they may raise more to support the onesie's launch. Initially, it'll be sold through the Rest Devices site and Amazon.com.

What do you think? Could this be the ultimate baby gift for first-time parents? Or is it information overload?

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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