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16th January 2015

Premature babies could get a feel of their mother thanks to a haptic mattress

It’s really not just a figure of speech when people say “the shock of birth”. Of course it’s shocking, and somehow babies need to cope with that trauma.

This is, for a big chunk aided by the physical and emotional contact with their mother. Cradling, rocking, or just holding the baby is the best way to tell them that “it’s going to be alright”.

“There was one element we did not see in that room, the parents…”

Premature babies though, do not get that. Instead, they get an artificial incubator, which keeps them warm and keeps diseases out, but the connection with the mother is usually restricted to a couple of hours when they are allowed to hold the baby.

Adding a human touch

Literally. This was the idea behind BabyBe, a system working to bring back the feel of the mother’s chest for babies in the incubator.

The two founders, Rapheal Lang an engineer from Barcelona and Camilo Anabalon an industrial designer from Santiago de Chile came up with the idea when they visited a neonatal ICU.

There was a big machine full of wires, hoses, lights and beeps; inside that machine there was a newborn baby…there was one element we did not see in that room. The parents, waiting outside in agony for a glimpse of that baby.” they explained.

A turtle, a mattress and something in between

The turtle, is like a cushion or a pad that the mother can hold to her chest, it’s basically the one that picks up the signals: the movement of the chest, the heartbeat, the breathing pattern.

Then there is a device in between reading these signals and transmitting them to the mattress in form of action. And then comes the bionic mattress itself which can reproduce the rhythms of the chest as they happen. Made of a jelly, flexible material it can replicate the smallest movements, giving the baby a chance to feel every flutter and heartbeat.

The project started off on the crowdfundig site, indiegogo, where they managed to get enough funding for a first batch of 10 BabyBes for trials in China and Germany. Now, they’ve tripled the stakes and are hoping to start off with 30 units delivered to various hospitals for a second trial. And then? We may just see them around pretty soon as they are planning to launch it on the market this year in December.

BABYBE, Be with your Baby from camilo anabalon on Vimeo.

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Header Photo: Fotolia

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