Nothing can prepare you for parenthood. More often than not, you’re not sure what to do. But perhaps something can help you find your way and show you the right direction. Nanit, a New York based AI start-up, has a revolutionary baby monitor that not only live streams your child but also provides insight on the child’s sleep. Nanit recently raised $14 million in Series B funding led by Jerusalem Venture Partners with participation from existing investors such as Upfront Ventures and RRE Ventures.
The product itself has an interesting history. Assaf Glazer, CEO and Founder of Nanit, started working on this as a project to help monitor his child’s sleep. Having specialized and worked on computer vision, developing a smart camera was the idea he arrived at. While doing his Postdoc at Cornell Tech, Assaf leveraged the resources available through the Runway Startup Postdoc program at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute to launch Nanit as a commercial product. The company was co-founded in 2015 with Andrew Berman (COO) and Tor Ivry (CTO) and the product debut in 2016.
Nanit is heavily invested in its technology and is at the forefront of computer vision and behavioural insights. They work with leading experts in the field to understand and operationalize behavioural parameters such as sleep which are otherwise difficult to observe. During the product development stage, Assaf worked with the Weill Cornell’s Center for Sleep Medicine to integrate the product with science. Nanit has a team of accomplished advisors comprised of doctors, professors and tech experts as research continues to be a core focus area.
The Nanit Sleep System
The Nanit Sleep System is comprised of the Nanit Camera and Nanit Insights. The Nanit Camera is an overhead HD camera that provides a bird’s-eye view of the child in the crib. The video quality is amazing and performs equally well in low light condition. Video is streamed real time and can be accessed through the accompanying app. The device has a top light and also captures the temperature and humidity sensors.
Nanit doesn’t just keep an eye on the child, but also helps with sleep training. The real value is in the behavioural insights provided through a paid service called Nanit Insights. Using machine learning and computer vision, parameters such as visits, sleep duration, sleep onset, and sleep efficiency are captured. This helps parents make informed decisions and changes. Nanit also provides tips and recommendations. For example, if parents are walking into the child’s room frequently and disturbing the child’s sleep, a recommendation to rethink the frequency of visits is made. Each morning, a brief containing a time-lapse video is sent to the parents about the previous night’s events.
Screenshots from the app
The design team has been very mindful while designing the product right from picking the location of the camera to child-proofing the device to ensure safety. Apart from using the WiFi, the device can interact with the app via the router so that transmission takes place even when the internet connection is down. The app allows you to share events or pictures. Users can send messages to one another on the app. Data security concerns have also been addressed by encrypting every frame. The crib monitor can be turned into a nursery monitor with a few additions.
The product has changed the lives of countless parents. The product reviews, recommendations and awards are a testimony to how powerful the product is. Leading parenting websites such as Babylist, Parenting, and Motherly among others highly recommend Nanit. The engagement statistics also show that parents love it. With parents spending an average of 80 minutes on the app, Nanit has a higher engagement time than Facebook (41 minutes) and Snapchat (26 minutes). Nanit also captures key milestones in the child’s development such as the first time the child falls asleep without parent intervention or flips over. This ensures parents never miss such special events.
Sleep is important for a child’s emotional and physical development. Insufficient sleep not only harms the child, but also impacts the family. The birth of a child is an emotionally charged experience. Research shows a strong link between maternal and paternal depression, and the child’s sleep problems. New parents themselves find a drastic reduction in the average sleep hours. A survey estimates a loss of 44 days of sleep a year. Nanit is able to ease a critical species problem that has and will exist.
The Baby Monitor Market
The baby monitors market is expected to reach US $2 billion by 2023. Globally, players are expected to ship over 20 million units between 2017-2023. This is a large and important market. In the non-wearable baby monitors segment, Nanit is way ahead of its peers. While others have more feature packed products, they provide no behavioural insights. There are wearable products such as Owlet that are able to capture more indicators than Nanit, but they fail to capture video content.
There are two parts to the revenue model- device/hardware and services. The device is available at $279 with the stand costing an additional $50. The other stream is from the service offerings such as Nanit Insights ($10 per month) and Nanit Insights Unlimited ($30 per month). The difference between the two is access to historical data – videos, performance metrics, and trends.
Apart from their own online store, Nanit has been focusing on online and offline sales by partnering with buybuy BABY and Amazon. The team also has plans to internationalize focusing on markets such as Canada and Europe.
While the basic product has now started with babies, the future potential applications range from birth to death. The infrastructure and algorithms are built in a way that is scalable to all age groups. It can capture data on sleep, interactions, vitals, and mobility to create a gateway to human behavior. With an increase in adoption, Nanit can show insights at an individual level as well as a global level.
Computer vision is bringing about a profound change in the way we interact one another and with machines. We are reaching levels where machines are able to identify specifics better than humans. Nanit is one of the influencers at the forefront of this revolution. One of the investors believes the Nanit team is so advanced in their area that “you’ll be reading about their innovations for years.”
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