BYU parents develop life-saving technologies after traumatizing experiences

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Spencer Behrend was at a local parade with his wife and children when his son took off into the crowd. Behrend and his wife searched frantically for their missing son for minutes that, to them, seemed to last an eternity. Just before calling the police, they spotted their son playing on a swing set in the back yard of a neighboring house.

Behrend, a BYU graduate, has turned the traumatizing experience into inspiration to create new products that have the potential to save the lives of many infants and children.

“My first boy was just a race car in tennis shoes,” Behrend said. “I had two girls first, which gave me a false sense of security.”

Behrend is the CEO and founder of KiLife Tech, where he is working to create a “smart band,” called the Kiband, that will allow parents to easily keep track of their children and instantly receive alerts to their position if they move too far away.

After their experience at the parade, the Behrends searched the market for anything that would help them keep better track of their harefooted son, but nothing they found seemed to fit their needs or their budget.

“By the time you pay for (a child-tracking device) you don’t have any money to go anywhere,” Behrend said.

Behrend and his co-founders used technology found in smartphones to create the Kiband. The band is placed on the child and syncs with parents’ smartphones. Parents are then able to set a perimeter with which they feel comfortable, up to 200 feet.

Not only is the Kiband able to send its position to a smart phone, but it is able to receive signals from a smartphone. When a child reaches the edge of the perimeter set by parents, the smartphone will set off an audible alert in the band, and parents will be able pinpoint their child’s exact location. A smartphone can track up to six Kibands simultaneously.

“You can’t react as quickly as you need to when a child is starting to walk off,” Behrend said. “It acts as a deterrent in worst-case scenarios.”

The band can only be removed by a parent and can’t be broken, according to Behrend. The alarm is also triggered by water, so parents will be alerted if their child falls into water unexpectedly.

Behrend and his team have finished developing the electronics of the Kiband and are currently ordering their first set from manufacturers. More information is available on the company website.

Kurt Workman is another BYU parent working to develop child safety technology.

From helping his anxious aunt watch over her twins, born prematurely, to hearing stories of how his wife almost passed away as an infant due to an undetected heart defect, Workman has been aware of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for years.

The product Workman would develop came into focus gradually. Before he was a father, Workman was approached by a friend who suggested they create a wireless pulse oximeter, a device used in hospitals to measure oxygen levels.

As Workman watched his aunt agonize over the safety of her premature twins and had other encounters with SIDS. “It just kind of clicked,” he said.

Workman, now the CEO of Owlet, decided to create a “smart sock” that could wirelessly transmit oxygen levels and other vitals to parents while the baby slept. Workman decided he needed to make the device a reality as he received enthusiastic and interested responses from parents they shared the ideas with.

“Now I have an eight-month-old, and I understand much more deeply the pain you go through, and the anxiety,” Workman said.

Similar to the Kiband, Owlet’s Baby Monitor uses technology from smartphones, though they are not required for the device to function.

“The biggest benefit is peace of mind that something is up watching when you are not,” said Jordan Monroe, one of Owlet’s co-founders.

The Baby Monitor tracks a baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels and alerts parents if either gets too low. It also records the data over time and can be used to detect breathing or heart-related irregularities.

Manufacturing the device has been the biggest challenge for Owlet. The pulse oximeter had to be small enough to fit comfortably inside a product the size of a baby’s sock but have enough battery power to avoid frequent replacement.

“Our big picture is that every single baby comes home wearing this device,” Monroe said.

For more information on Owlet’s Baby Monitor, visit the company website.

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