Pregnancy is a beautiful moment in a woman’s life, which nevertheless involves a major constraint: contractions. Indeed, besides being painful, it is always complicated for a woman to distinguish the false alerts of the real contractions that announce the arrival of baby. These false alerts, known as contractions of Braxton Hicks, usually occur in the 6th week of pregnancy and carry with them unnecessary trips to the hospital. They increase in intensity gradually and become more and more confused with the real uterine contractions of the work.In Belgium, the startup Bloomlife has developed a connected object presented at the CES 2017 in Las Vegas and that can address this problem.
Bloomlife comes in the form of a small sensor to pose under the belly of the future mother. Through an application available on iOS and Android, prospective parents will be able to receive and analyze contractions in real time. The startup promises with this object a more precise and precise reading than the usual calculators.
A sensor and an application
Bloomlife is a case that measures the electrical activity of the uterine muscle. It is placed on the belly of the future mother, using a hypoallergenic patch that lasts about 7 days. The patch then communicates to the mobile application dedicated, by bluetooth, information about contractions.
Future parents can follow in real time the curve of said contractions, their frequency and duration: no need to count yourself! It also helps to better understand what is happening in his body.
Preparation contractions, or childbirth in sight?
Bloomlife’s goal is to help prospective parents discern contractions that precede delivery – often referred to as “Braxton Hicks contractions”, which can occur upstream in the sixth month of pregnancy – from those announcing the imminence the arrival of baby and childbirth. The goal is to avoid unnecessary trips to the clinic. Ultimately, thanks to all the data collected, the goal will also be to prevent early deliveries, more and more numerous.
It has the merit of wanting to help future moms to better manage the stress of the first contractions that arrive, and not run to emergency unnecessarily. Nevertheless, it does not replace a doctor, nor is it made to oppose the maternal instinct; so, if in doubt, moms will have to trust each other and go to the hospital for a check!
Also known as contractions of Braxton Hicks, these false alarms are often confused with the contractions that really announce the baby’s impending arrival, and cause useless waste of time to go to the hospitals. With this tracker proposed by the startup Bloomlife, future moms can now identify the real contractions of false alarms.
A real lack of data for moms and doctors
Julien Penders and Eric Dy have their career in one of the largest European university research laboratory. It was without counting an important event in the life of the first named:
“My wife became pregnant in 2013 and we realized that during pregnancy young couples had a lot of questions about the baby’s health, what to do and what not to do during that time, and about how a pregnancy happens. After this experience, we realized that we could answer many of these questions with the technologies we had developed for other applications before. “
From this came the idea of Bloomlife, the idea of a connected object that helps pregnant women. “We very quickly made an appointment with the gynecologists and the doctors to discuss the medical interest. Here too there was a real subject. The practices of obstetrics and gynecology are based on relatively old practices. We noted a real lack of fine data regarding the course of pregnancy and the baby’s condition. So we decided to combine connected object and Big Data analysis.”
From this scientific “mission” and several iterations, the two founders designed Bloomlife, a tracker able to measure contractions to reassure mothers and provide doctors with crucial data to understand this period of birth.
The first product of Bloomlife was born after a market study conducted in 2014 by the startup. According to the results mentioned by Julien Penders: “Two questions arise for the mother: how is my child? and when will he go out? “
This first commercial version was therefore performed according to these two criteria by taking into account only one parameter, for the moment. Indeed, the connected patch is designed for nine months of pregnancy, but is essentially useful in the last quarter, since it is at the moment that contractions occur.
For this purpose, the object connects Bluetooth Low Energy to the smartphone or tablet of the user and the application allows to view the data stored in the cloud. The sensor therefore has less harmful connectivity than other connected devices. In addition, the designers have thought of the system so that the emission of waves occurs to the outside and not towards the user’s stomach.
In order to respect the standards and respect the health of the mother and her child, the founders of Bloomlife have passed several commercial certifications in the United States, the country where they settled to continue the project. They have obtained FCC, EMC, EMI certifications of advanced levels proving the non-dangerous nature of the product in terms of wave emission and electromagnetic fields.
The FDA is an acronym proving that a product has medical value. This is the equivalent of CE marking medical devices in Europe. For a connected object, this implies a particular manufacturing and a respect of the norms of the data of health.
Data hosted by Bloomlife in the cloud is anonymized for the purpose of comparing them between women users of the service. “It makes it possible to check whether as a pregnant woman the rhythm of your contractions is normal,” says the COO. “Our vision: moms must own the data. We ask them if they want to share the data with us to participate in medical research. We observe the possible reasons of the diseases of pregnancy, for the moment premature births from the transmitted information. “
The Bloomlife tracker: a product as a service
Bloomlife is not a connected sensor like the others commercially speaking. Most product designers like this sell the product and give you access to a free application. Here the model is totally “as a service”. The young company “rents” patches for the quarter only in the US market. The first month is charged $ 150, the second 100 and the third $ 50 if the future mothers use the service for the duration of the contraction period. Spare stickers are sent to users “There is a brake to buy for three months and for us this allows us to dampen the impact of the sensors on several users and reduce the price we will ask our future customers. “