Lack of sleep for new parents is an everyday norm and yet it is a serious issue. It is more than a burden, it can quickly become a health problem for both parents and the baby. Postpartum depression, child abuse, car accidents and spousal disputes are the very real consequences of babies keeping us up at night.
The standardized methodology to soothe crying babies is the 5 S’s, a method developed by world-famous pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp. For five years, fuseproject worked with Dr. Karp to develop a robotic bassinet that reacts to your baby’s cries and movements to replicate the 5 S’s, exactly the way Dr. Karp would himself. The result is SNOO – the world’s safest baby bed, and the first major innovation in infant beds in over 1,000 years.
Since its launch in 2016, SNOO has won more major awards than any baby product in history, including the Innovation of the Year award from the prestigious National Sleep Foundation. Happiest Baby has successfully secured impressive funding from a number of investors for ongoing childcare innovation products, and the SNOO is now available for rental at under $5 per day.
Safety and ease of use were our top considerations in considering the design work for SNOO. While the experience of the product was predetermined, with the 5 S system developed by Dr. Karp, it was important to create a substantive but straightforward experience for parents with the bassinet’s design. The product will mainly be used in the middle of the night, so it was critical to edit the design down to its most needed features and functionality. For one, may mothers are sore and healing after birth, so making the swaddle easy to put on, and making the height appropriate to lean over were important features. Parents need to be able to see into the crib at multiple angles, and cleaning needed to be seamless, which helped guide material selection as well.
Unlike other robotics and IoT products, this is a product parents are trusting to take care of their newborns; we determined that the design needed to be minimal yet substantial, natural and honest. It couldn’t be toyish or novel, but rather a refined and high quality bassinet with its functionalities hidden inside its frame. In this way, SNOO is shifting the conversation around robotics – it enhances our ability as parents without replacing the human element.
Each element of SNOO was highly considered for its safety, functional efficiency, visual and material quality, and comfort. For the main enclosure, the curved structural elements hold a double layer of mesh. There are three microphones to detect the baby’s cry and help differentiate it from outside noises. Below the mattress are the sensors, speakers and a robotic engine that power the intelligent response of SNOO. Underneath, the hairpin-style legs safely and beautifully support the entire assembly. The outer layer of textile mesh is firm with larger openings to facilitate the flow of fresh air and to make the baby visible inside the bassinet, a feature that enhances the parents’ feeling of connection to – and protection of – the baby. The inner layer of mesh, connected to the platform supporting the baby, is extremely flexible, which allows it to move and distort with the swinging motion. The structure holding the mesh layers hides the microphones that listen for the baby’s cry, while the speakers and all other technology lie hidden under the mattress, deep in the body of the bed. The height of the bassinet was carefully selected to maximize the visibility of the baby to the parent lying alongside SNOO in bed.
The SNOO sack was a full design process in and of itself as it has to hold the baby with the perfect amount of snug embrace to emulate the womb, while maintaining a comfortable temperature, and still affording the swinging motion that rocks them to sleep. Made of organic cotton, the swaddle carries the mesh motif to maximize breathability for temperature control. Putting the swaddle on is very simple, and both the swaddle and bassinet are designed for easy cleaning. The swaddle is also equipped with a set of attachment points which secure the sack onto both sides of the sleeper and prevent the baby from accidentally rolling to an unsafe position. This feature is so important that SNOO’s action is blocked unless both swaddle wings are properly hooked in place. This crucial safety measure makes SNOO safer than any other crib or bassinet.
To help parents quickly and easily know the current status of their SNOO, we designed a simple corresponding app. Right on the home screen, parents can immediately know what level, 1-5, their sleeper is set to at a given time. We wanted the convenience of Wi-Fi without any negative effects. So we conducted two independent laboratory studies to make sure that babies in SNOO have no exposure to Wi-Fi radiation. And, we further assured protection by placing a metal Wi-Fi shield in the platform of the bed, between the baby and the module and by allowing Wi-Fi to be completely turned off at the touch of a button.
Parents are very interested in knowing how much their baby is sleeping—the number of naps he takes, how long it takes him to go to sleep, the amount of times he wakes during the night. Upcoming versions of the app will self-populate that information to offer parents daily read-outs of their baby’s sleep patterns.