Screen shot from Waa’s promo video.
Screen shot from Waa’s promo video.

Is your baby hungry, wet, tired, hurting or craving attention? It’s hard to decipher what’s bothering a crying baby.

Waa, a concept device to interpret infant’s cries, won an Internet of Things (IoT) student design competition at Israel’s first-ever ISmart Conference, held in Jerusalem on February 24.

The five IoT projects presented by teams from Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design resulted from a semester-long course created in collaboration with Jerusalem Venture Partners and the Jerusalem Development Authority to bring IoT innovation from academy to industry.

The winning team’s prize is a trip to Berlin to visit the hub:raum incubator at Deutsche Telekom, courtesy of hub:raum TLV.

Waa follows the approach of Dunstan Baby Language, an Australian company whose training course and app teach parents how to distinguish between five distinct crying sounds — eh, neh, heh, eairh and owh – universal to babies everywhere.

WAA promo video

The students envisioned an Internet-enabled sensor device that attaches to a crib, stroller or car seat to give frustrated parents an instant clue, via colorful icons, to the source of baby’s distress. Guy Feidman Reshef presented on behalf of teammates Sapir Shragai, Gal Reches, Dana Kreisberg and Rotem Fesler.

Feidman Reshef tells ISRAEL21c that unlike existing apps based on the Dunstan approach, the device would eliminate the smartphone from the interplay between baby and parent.

His team worked on the project under instructor Eli Jacobson, a wearables/IoT design specialist. Business guidance was provided by Jerusalem’s Siftech Accelerator.

The four other student projects presented at ISmart were LUMI, a “magical flashlight” to enhance bedtime stories with projected images on the walls and ceilings; Bill Bouncer, a real-time control and monitoring system for electricity consumption; RainGo, a network of sensor-enhanced umbrellas to provide real-time weather information through crowdsourcing; and Sofi, a smartphone case embedded with sensors to detect the user’s emotions and learn what triggers them (such as annoying callers), suggesting actions to take according to mood.

LUMI presenters show how their device could modernize storytime. (Photo: Maxim Golovanov)
LUMI presenters show how their device could modernize storytime. (Photo: Maxim Golovanov)

Siftech CEO Oded Barel tells ISRAEL21c, “The partnership with Bezalel was an ‘opening shot’ for more and more collaborations and mutual activities with Bezalel and other academic institutions in Jerusalem. … When we rolled out the idea of this course, we didn’t realize that the outcome will be projects that are so original and creative.”

The teams drew on expertise from several departments at the institute, including industrial design, graphic design and visual communication.

Though this course was tied specifically to the ISmart conference, Ronel Mor, head of the interactive design program at Bezalel, tells ISRAEL21c that Bezalel has several courses that enable students to explore technology and entrepreneurship, and to interact with industry.

In 2012, for example, General Motors collaborated with Bezalel’s Future Lab on a Windows of Opportunity project to design “smart glass” apps intended to enrich the experience of rear-seat passengers. Some of these could eventually be commercialized.

“Every year, most of the projects are valid initiatives that can make it to the market,” says Mor. “It’s amazing to see how these students manage to come up with disruptive, relevant ideas with solid business angles, and they do it in three months while taking another eight courses.”

Can we expect to buy Waa or the other student products one day?

“Potentially these projects could go forward if they have enough bandwidth and backbone to get investment,” says Mor.