Innovation solves real world problems. In the real world, people have babies, as well as careers. They need solutions that make their lives easier and their homes safer for themselves and their infants. This year, five of my executive friends had their first babies and after visiting their newly decked out nurseries I noticed how increasingly high-tech being a new parent has become!
The baby safety tech industry has seen a lot of new growth and innovation in recent years, according to TechNavio. But it's not an area that fosters reckless growth and development. Facebook's old slogan "Move fast and break things" would never work for this sensitive, highly regulated, industry. Unfortunately for baby safety tech innovators, improvements usually move forward in baby steps.
So, if you can't move fast and break things, how do you innovate?
First, you have to meet a need. Necessity, after all, is well known as the mother of invention. Sometimes there isn't a need to be met until the right person comes along and asks "how can we fix this through technology?"
That's what happened with Arturas Vaitaitis, creator of an innovative sleep monitor called Monbaby. As a new father, Vaitaitis was personally motivated to get a good night's sleep, and to rest easy about his baby's safety during the night. He needed some assurance that his baby was breathing without having to touch the child and risk waking him up.
Vaitaitis helped launch the design for MonBaby, a clip-on monitor that sends data about your baby's breathing, position, temperature, etc. directly to your iPhone or Android device. The company aggregates data that allows comparative analytics, which can be seen by parents on a dashboard. They also get a history of the quality of the child's sleep vs. the rest of the client database.
Vaitaitis and his teammates designed it to use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, which doesn't rely on a WIFI connection. They also made sure it's the most affordable connectable baby monitoring product on the market right now.
This makes it useful for people in parts of the world where WIFI isn't a given, and where other clip-on monitors are out of the reach for the average family. MonBaby is meeting needs for many people and their journey can teach us quite a lot about the innovation process. Here are some of their insights.
You're Not Alone
If you've got a need unfulfilled in your life, one that might be fixed through innovative technology, you probably aren't the only one. It's likely that people all over the world would benefit from an innovative solution.
Collaborative research from ForbesWoman and TheBump.com showed that 92 percent of working mothers say between work, home and parenting responsibilities, they're feeling overwhelmed. Let's look at that figure again. 92 percent! That's a pretty high rate. And it expresses a lot of need.
Any time there's a demand arising in volumes like this, that's an immediate signal that it's time to innovate. If you want to get really creative, set aside all of your ideas scribbled on napkins and instead, reverse engineer a creative solution starting with the problem. Analyze the need and ask "how can we solve this using technology?"
Focus on the Problem to Reverse Engineer a Solution
It may be a problem that you're passionate about or personally invested in, like Vaitaitis. In other cases, it won't be. It could just be an inconvenience that a lot of the world is experiencing, or a need for which a solution could be especially timely and helpful.
As the MonBaby's team told me, "The underlying drive behind all of this is to help people. We started with parents and their newborn babies. However, our aim is to help many of those who are in need of assistance through wearable technology and we're aiming to offer additional products while continuing to have MonBaby benefit existing and future users."
If you start with an observed problem and reverse engineer the solution, you'll have an innovative idea that meets real world needs. That means you're not just coming up with creative ideas for their own sake--you're actually building a better world. It sounds heroic, but it could be as simple as your product making babies safer at night, and allowing new parents to get just a little more rest.
Expanding Technology Creates the Opportunity to Innovate
Baby safety tech is an expanding market, thanks to the way technology has changed how we interact and move through our daily lives. But the ability to innovate in a market like this will be reserved for those who have a keen eye for real world, solvable problems.
Incidentally, the MonBaby team is already at work on something to solve another of life's major burdens--your partner's snoring! With a similar wearable button, this one called the MonZzz, lets you electrocute your partner from your smartphone when they snore. It appears innovation is making us all sleep a little easier!