How might we enhance the emotional experience of pregnancy for fathers?
The birth of a child is a very special occasion in a couple's life. However, the bulk of the experience belongs to the mother as she is bearing the baby. The fathers miss out on the experience of connecting with the baby while it's still growing inside the mother. This makes it difficult for them to adjust to the new role of a parent after birth. During our research, we found that the absence of a physical connection holds the fathers back from emotionally bonding with the child. So we decided to give the fetus a physical personification even before its birth.
Bloom is a smart device that monitors the health of the fetus and facilitates the fathers to bond with their unborn child.
The Bloom eco system consists of (1) a wireless fetal heart rate and movement sensor (2) the physical object which personifies the fetus and (3) a dedicated app support. The sensor continuously picks up real time data and pushes it into the cloud for health monitoring and keeping a record of baby vitals. The app becomes the interface for interacting with that information, and our physical smart device mirrors the information in visual perceivable form.
“ When there’s a healthy attachment between baby and parent, the baby comes to believe that the world is a safe place. This is the beginning of the establishment of trust.”
- Child & family research partnership at the University of Texas
The salient feature of Bloom is that it picks up the heart rate readings/movements through the sensor and simulates a visual throbbing effect and sound. This mirrors the real-time heart rate of the fetus, who can now be perceived as a living being separate from the mother's body.
Even when the fathers are at work, they can keep in touch with their baby and not miss a precious moment. Once the baby comes into the world, ‘Bloom’ transforms its functionality and can become the first toy with which the baby interacts.
Growing True-Time Heartbeat Simulation
Bloom picks up the heart rate readings from the sensor and simulates a visual throbbing effect. The size of the light which pulses like a heartbeat grows in size as the pregnancy proceeds.
Feeling the fetus’s kicks and other movements will no longer be just experienced by the mothers. ‘Bloom’ helps give a visual cue. Whenever there is any movement picked up by the sensor, it is reflected in an animated light.
The Sound of Life
Hear the feeble heartbeats reconstructed from the live data coming from the sensors. It’s a similar experience to that of listening to a human heartbeat.
HOW IT WORKS - THE ECOSYSTEM
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
During our secondary research, we found enough evidences which suggested the importance of the bond between fathers and the unborn baby.
Infants whose fathers were absent— and had no involvement in the pregnancy— were more likely to be born with lower birth weight and to be born prematurely.
When there's a healthy attachment between baby and parent, the baby comes to believe that the world is a safe place. This is the beginning of the establishment of trust.
It is important for new fathers to bond with the baby in the utero as this would help them forge a strong bond and make adjustment to fatherhood after the baby’s birth a little easier.
A 3D printed prototype was made and the heart beat lighting was simulated by simple Arduino programming to create the desired effect. The prototype was later tested with a real life expecting couple to gauge their feedback and understand their reactions to an idea like this. They also volunteered to be our models for the concept video.