Over the past few years we’ve seen smartphone-based weight scales, activity monitors, and blood pressure cuffs go mainstream. It seems that at least a couple new devices enter the marketplace every week. One of the most intriguing entrants recently is BleepBleeps, the brainchild of UK-designer Tom Evans. The company just launched a Kickstarter to fund the first of their “little friends:” Sammy Screamer, a motion alarm. We had the opportunity to interview Tom after meeting him at the World Innovation Summit on Health in Qatar and then again at CES.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What exactly are BleepBleeps?
Tom Evans: BleepBleeps are a family of little friends that make parenting easier.
BleepBleeps are a colourful collection of cute, connected devices that help everyone become a great parent. Little guys that help you get pregnant, give birth, look after your baby and raise your child. Each device connects to the cloud and our smartphone app to give you access to simple tools, guidance and content. Each of the BleepBleeps characters has a face, a name, a personality and a story. And they each make a unique bleep bleep sound when activated, hence the name BleepBleeps.
Our product design and tonality is inspired by the simple form and colours of children’s building blocks combined with the characterfulness of designer vinyl toys and the lightheartedness of the Alessi brand. This design language makes us unique in the health/gadget category, appealing to design-literate parents plus instantly connecting with kids.
Our ultimate aim is to create a fun, modern, trusted parenting brand.
Right now, BleepBleeps is comprised of eight conceptual devices. There’s Tony Tempa, a thermometer, and there’s the aforementioned Sammy Screamer, a motion alarm that can be attached to strollers, pool gates, or whatever surface you choose. The built in accelerometer keeps track of the device’s position and alerts parents when it moves. Users can either set the device to scream or simply get a push notification as an alert. Both of these will be the first to market, with the immediate focus on Sammy since it’s not technically a medical device and won’t have to pass FDA or similar regulations. The other tools that BleepBleeps has cooked up include Master Bates, a male fertility tester, David Camera, a baby monitor, and Olivia P Sticks, a ovulation tester, to name just a few.
Medgadget: How did you come up with the idea?
Evans: The epiphany came when my daughter was sick a couple of years ago. I put a digital thermometer into her ear and although the thermometer worked and I got a reading, I didn’t know whether that reading was high or low. I then (as we all do now when we don’t know anything) went to Google and found out that my daughter’s temperature was indeed high and that she needed to see a doctor. It’s not a particularly pleasurable experience for anyone involved. Most devices feel extremely medical, and this one emitted a harsh “bleep” as it read the temperature. Thankfully she was fine, but it minded me to think about connecting the device and the information.
So the idea of BleepBleeps was born (no surprises as to where the name came from) and producing a series of products that can help prospective parents through gestation and all the way through early childhood. After the experience with my daughter, I came to the conclusion that there had to be a more connected, more pleasant way to approach parenting devices like thermometers, baby monitors and even tools that help you get pregnant like an ovulation tester. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I decided to create them myself. It just felt like a lot of medical and parenting devices lack a certain emotional quality. They’re either designed by geeks in bedrooms, so they’re really functionality first and character and story second, or they’re designed by big corporate companies and they look really generic and kind of medical and lack any kind of design value.
Medgadget: Can you discuss the technology behind BleepBleeps?
Evans: Sammy Screamer uses Bluetooth LE to communicate with smartphones and tablets, so only certain devices will be compatible. We currently support the following devices:
iPhone, iPod Touch and iPads running iOS 7.0+ with Bluetooth 4.0 support – iPhone 4S, 5, 5S, iPod Touch (5th generation), iPad (3rd-5th Generation, including iPad Air), iPad Mini and iPad Mini Retina.
Android devices running Android 4.3+ with Bluetooth 4.0 support such as Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 and Google Nexus 4 and 5.
Medgadget: What are the major challenges you’re facing in bringing BleepBleeps to life?
Evans: The major challenge has been engineering an optimum battery life and controlling scope creep. We have so many ideas to make products better but that has to be balanced with shipping something asap!
Medgadget: What are you hoping to accomplish with the Kickstarter?
Evans: In the short term we plan to launch on a crowdfunding platform to launch the brand, validate demand and raise some funds for a short manufacturing run. We will simultaneously develop our own direct channels allowing us to sell medium volumes at high margin. Longer-term we will develop relationships with large international retailers and distributors.