The newborn/infant/baby industry is fascinating to me because it is primed for tech disruption. Why, you might ask? First, historically raising a child has been supported with medical expertise. If a newborn was sick, you called the doctor. Digital now allows users (in this case, parents) to access that wealth of knowledge and expertise online. Second, also historically, having or raising a child required the use of medical equipment. Tech now allows parents to listen to their baby’s heartbeat with their smartphone. Hospital grade, bulky equipment is no longer needed for most things. Clearly, with the examples just shared, progress has been made and tech is evolving to take this industry to the next level. But, there is additional opportunity if we flipped the audience. To date tech in the industry has helped the parents. What if we built something to help the baby? I know what you’re thinking…by helping out the parents, you’re in turn, helping the baby. You’re not wrong, but hear me out.
Our 3rd (and possibly last) child will turn 2yrs old next spring. She is currently in the babble stage. Whenever you ask her a question or she’s in need of something, she’ll yell at you with cute, incomprehensible jibber jabber. And clearly they’re not just emphasized goo-goo, gah gahs; she’s formulating thoughts in her mind and articulating them the only way she’s knows how. And as she learns to speak, the babbling will turn in to words, sentences and phrases.
Machine learning could be powerful lever to pull here. First, let’s build an app that can take the bleeble blabble she just shouted and say it the same way back to her. Maybe it mixes up the order or the tone used to make it conversational. BUT record those “conversations” and with the machine, get better as she gets better. And instead of relying on us (moms, dads, siblings, daycare provides, grandparents, etc) to magically translate, this machine could teach us. No, she wasn’t just spouting that mess of words off to be cute…she needs her diaper changed.
The machine gets really powerful when it reaches across children. There will be habits and clusters it recognizes and can more quickly identify what Child D is saying because Child A, B and C spoke the same “language”.
Knowing what a child is thinking and feeling before he/she OR the parents do…now that’s powerful!