The Wireless Onesie: Please Don't Put a Biosensor on Your BabyCarolyn Castiglia
In scouring the web for parenting news, we come across some really upbeat stories (even one month of breastfeeding benefits new mothers), and a slew of really depressing ones that we leave unreported. Then there are the stories that beg the question, “This can’t possibly be a real thing, right?” Like 8-year-olds getting bikini waxes, or schoolbus kids being tracked with GPS tags. Yes, technology is everywhere these days, even in your newborn baby’s onesie. That is if you’re crazy enough to want to have your baby’s biorhythms sent to your iPhone through the use of a wireless LAN.
Introducing: Exmobaby, “the first baby garment to remotely monitor vital signs and behavior.” Oh, and have you met the four horsemen behind me yet?
Exmovere Holdings CEO David Bychkov describes the product as a onesie that “will come with a baby-safe, rechargeable Zigbee wireless transceiver that snaps into a pouch.” He says, “From there, the data is transmitted to a nearby PC or cell phone in order to keep parents and other caregivers informed of a baby’s status. This continuous monitoring in real time will allow for an “emotional umbilical cord” between mother and child.”
Okay. Where to begin when so much wrong is staring me in the face?
1.) Parents in Canada recently claimed that their school’s wireless network was making their kids sick. While this theory has been debunked, would you really want to walk around with a router strapped to your body all day? I don’t even like to carry my cell phone in my pocket, because I don’t want to get pocket cancer.
2.) Why leave your child if you want to know what is going on with them every second? You won’t have any fun, you’ll become riddled with anxiety, which will make you a bad parent. You’re not doing yourself or your child any good by using this type of monitoring device.
3.) Helicopter parents are chastized daily because of their inability to cut the emotional umbilical cord. Do we really want to support that type of co-dependent relationship from birth?
4.) If you want to keep up with a baby’s status, just check their Facebook page, amiright????
CNET‘s Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, in what I think is a slightly sarcastic, devil’s advocate approach to rationalizing the use of this device/outfit, aka doubtfit, writes, “consider a few scenarios: parents concerned about babysitter vigilance; mothers going back to work; that several-month window in which babies are at the highest risk of sudden infant death syndrome.” Okay. Let’s use the SIDS argument, which to me seems the most compelling. Say you put your baby in a bionic onesie, lay them down face up in their crib, and saunter off to watch Real Housewives. Everything’s fine with the baby – you check your cell phone at every commercial break. Nothing strange about the “icons that represent the baby’s heart rate, as well as emotional state and behavior.” Great. Little Lindsey must be dreaming about puppies and rainbows! So you go to bed, secure in the knowledge that your computerized baby will be just fine.
And then what? You’re asleep. Are you going to hear whatever bleep or bloop might emanate from the tiny speaker on your phone, letting you know there’s a frowny face emoticon waiting for you from Exmovere because your baby pooped – or, God forbid, something bad actually happened? I can’t be the only parent out there who trained themselves to sleep through a bit of middle-of-the-night crying, hoping it would stop. Or – imagine! – the only parent who might choose to let my kid cry for a minute, hoping she will learn to soothe herself because I know that creating an emotional umbilical cord will render her incapable of caring for herself as an adult, which would be an atrocity, because unlike Irene Cara, I’m not gonna live forever. (I do, however, hope to make it to heaven, if it exists, and that my baby will remember my name.)
CNET reports that “the first 1,000 onesies are scheduled to ship to select buyers from the Exmobaby waiting list in early 2011” and that “each kit will include an Exmobaby garment set (in, yes, blue or pink), a Zigbee transceiver, PC and cell phone monitoring software, and six months of online service.” I’m sorry, I will never dress my baby in something that requires a service contract. Aside from the obvious reasons (as Paula said this morning, how long before its chip-in-the-brain time?), you know that thing is definitely gonna require a hand wash.
This entire rant may be a moot point, my critique of no consequence, because there are only a select few who will a) think that the computerized tracking of infants is an idea that carries any merit, and b) actually be able to afford such a weird, Syfy lifestyle. According to CNET, “The company has not yet released pricing details.”
Armstrong Moore notes the creepy nature of Exmovere (their slogan: We Know How You Feel). I highly suggest you visit their website for a video glimpse at The Chariot, a Segway-like people mover designed to be physically worn by amputees – and, you guessed it – cops.