A new way to introduce music and other sounds to your little bun in the oven. (photo ritmo)
A new way to introduce music and other sounds to your little bun in the oven. (photo ritmo)

The Israeli company Nuvo Group is conceiving a range of wearable sensor-based devices to help parents monitor and bond with infants before and after birth.

The first product in this line, Ritmo (currently being rebranded as Nuvo Surround), is a four-speaker sound system in a Spandex support belt, delivering a safe, 360-degree listening experience to the fetus. Nuvo Surround uses your iPod, mp3 player or smartphone to deliver music and any other recorded sounds – such as a parent telling a story — to soothe and possibly educate right in the womb.

You can buy it on the company’s website as well as on Amazon and at Babies R Us stores. The basic model retails in North America for about $80; the $140 advanced model “analyzes the patterns in your music to deliver sound at a safe and comfortable level for your baby at its particular stage in development.”

Nuvo is now gestating a much-anticipated second offspring, PregSense, due to be “born” in the next 12 months.

PregSense is a wearable elastic monitor embedded with sensors to provide 24/7 Bluetooth-enabled data on fetal and maternal heart rates in the later stages of pregnancy. The data is transmitted to a smartphone and stored on a secure cloud-based database accessible only to expectant mothers and their physicians.

The device, which Nuvo CEO Oren Oz introduced at the recent Wearable Technology Show in London, is a sensor, algorithm and app platform to be marketed first as a consumer-grade device for about $250 and then as an enhanced medical-grade device following the completion of clinical trials and FDA approval.

By delivering an app-enabled visual representation of the baby based on its heartbeat and movements in utero, PregSense is meant to keep mom in touch with what’s going on her belly between ultrasound exams, and also to help her care provider extract insights “that could potentially lead to the early detection of problems such as cardiac distress, hypoxia and decreased fetal movements.”

“For a normal pregnancy, PregSense can be used just to reduce anxiety,” says Oranit Ido, director of clinical strategy. “The immediate intended use is remote and completely safe monitoring for fetal well-being. In the near future, the system will provide early detection for early intervention if there are any difficulties.”

Once the PregSense user base grows large enough, Nuvo can use the gathered big data to automatically predict severe complications such as preeclampsia, long before the condition becomes dangerous.

“The sophistication of the technology and the sophistication of the sensors that we had designed for that is really making what used to be clinical data collection into passive continuous reliable home data collection,” said Nuvo Group CTO Nathan Intrator, a Tel Aviv University professor of computer science specializing in medical applications of data mining, machine learning and signal processing.

Oz said he believes that Nuvo’s PregSense “will bring better care to more women at a fraction of the cost” as it replaces machinery such as cardiotocography (CTG) and electronic fetal monitor (EFM) machines.

Advisory board member Dr. Simcha Yagel, head of the OB-GYN at Jerusalem’s Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Centers, also pointed out that the electrocardiogram (ECG) feature of PregSense signals a “new achievement that will add value for the pregnant woman’s physician.”

It will also be a boon for expectant mothers themselves, because the device isn’t attached to anything stationary. PregSense is wearable and mobile, so the pregnant woman can keep it strapped on while walking around, even during labor, and can continue wearing it during delivery with free range of motion.

Headquartered in Tel Aviv with offices in New York and Hong Kong, the Nuvo Group is focusing on the American, UK, German and Chinese markets for the time being.

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