October 16th, 2019
Kurt Workman is the co-founder and CEO of Owlet, a world-changing tech company dedicated to improving infant health. Their famous “smart sock” product uses pulse oximetry to track babies’ health, alerting parents of potential problems are concerning trends.
Why Was Owlet Founded?
In reality, the idea for Owlet came about decades ago via a personal experience in Workman’s family. His wife has a congenital heart condition and the only reason they caught it early was because her mother “had a feeling.” What if their child had the same issue? How would they know? The uncertainty and concern is shared by millions of parents.
Workman eventually focused on pulse oximetry that tracks heart rate, and blood oxygen concentration. This told him all the data he wanted. Because pulse-ox tech was developed in the 70s though, why hadn’t anyone does this before? It turns out wireless technology and miniaturization of sensors is what allowed them to use this technology in a sock.
How Many Lives Have Been Saved By Owlet?
Although HIPAA, privacy concerns and feedback limit Workman’s data on how many lives have been saved, he told me they have received 1000 customer feedback notes about their technology saving babies’ lives.
Suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a big problem and Workman’s team at Outlet continues to work to save infant lives and bring parents peace. The data has been helpful to parents for sure, but I asked Workman a bigger question. Have they seen any data trends, or will they possibly spur medical discovery?
Owlet Data May Lead To Medical Breakthrough
Kurt Workman explained they are currently analyzing the vital data they’ve collected in hopes of making a medical breakthrough. Owlet has hired the VP of research from United Healthcare to come look at all the data. Broadly speaking, there are a lot of cases where a baby’s heart rate or oxygen levels will change before they will get sick, so there is a high prediction rate that a baby will get sick.
RSV is common among babies, and Workman believes they may be able to predict it. In all, they are working on 12 different case studies in infant health. He believes they may have the largest data set of infant health in history. Currently, they can tell parents of real-time health concerns, but their future goal is to predict negative health events before they happen, allowing them to schedule a pediatrician visit before they visible see symptoms.
Future Versions Of Owlet
I asked Workman about future iterations of their smart sock tech and he explained they are looking into monitoring core body temperature, respiratory rate, sleep states, and additional integrations that could possibly turn on white noise when a baby is coming out of a sleep cycle, or allowing their tech to speak to other smart technologies like a basinet to lull the baby back to sleep.
Kurt Workman and Owlet’s Near-Fatal Failure
Kurt Workman, like every other entrepreneur, didn’t have an easy experience launching Owlet with his co-founders. Early on, after their crowdfunding push, in fact, a fatal flaw in their product design nearly took the company out forever when they had to throw away their first 2000 units. You will have to listen to the podcast to see how his failures actually made for a better product. (And also how inspiring his early backers were)
Owlet Pregnancy Band
I got so caught up in my time with Kurt Workman, I neglected to bring up their newest product, the Pregnancy Band! The Owlet Pregnancy Band records and shares your unborn baby’s heartbeat and activity, allowing new parents to receive wellness notifications.
The Pregnancy Band will manually count kicks, and even track maternal sleep positions. The product is due out late 2019, so look for it on their website soon. You can fill out this form to be alerted.
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