A new tracking device will let parents know when their children run away from a caregiver at the playground, where they’ve been during the day, if they’ve had enough sleep or activity at daycare , or if they have temperature , among other useful information.
How will they know? Little bird will tell them.
It’s the clever inspiration for the name of a new Seattle-based startup founded by Monique Platha University of Washington alum whose own experiences as a mother of two toddlers inspired her to seek out a wearable device for her children, which gave her reassurance when she left them with a baby -sitter.
She couldn’t find one that suited her needs, so she started a company to make one.
“I was just trying to feel like my kids were safe,” Plath explained. “I wanted to know that they were happy. Just the really basic needs that any parent has when trying to juggle two lives. You want to be a really good mother. You have to provide for your family and feel good about the care choices you make.
The result is the Littlebird Toddler Care Tracker wristband for kids, with an accompanying app for caregivers and parents. Pre-orders started on Tuesday. List price is $300, which includes a year of free cellular connectivity, with a $15/month charge thereafter. The delivery of the first pre-orders is scheduled for this fall.
A author of children’s books and former commercial realtor, Plath grew up in the Snoqualmie Valley and lives in Yakima, Washington. This is his first tech startup. She assembled a team of hardware, software and technology industry veterans to help bring Littlebird to life.
The CTO of the company is Gadi Amit from New agreement design, an industrial designer and former vice president of Frog Design who brings a wealth of experience in apparel and other hardware products. Littlebird works with a distributed team of engineers in San Francisco and Ukraine.
Littlebird’s advisers, assisting the company in a personal capacity, are Sarah Gabinsenior vice president of global communications for Expedia Group; Brian Hall, vice president of product and industry marketing at Google Cloud; and Braxton Carterformer CFO of T-Mobile.
The company raised $2 million from friends, family and angel investors.
Plath heard the common advice against pursuing a hardware project: prototyping and iterating are hard; Seattle is not a city of hardware, etc. But after trying to hack and customize existing devices to suit her needs as a parent, she realized that building a device was going to be the best path.
The Littlebird Toddler CareTracker Wristband is designed to be worn passively by children, with no lights or other features to distract them. It comes with a detachable adjustable waist strap, designed for ages 1-5.
The band tracks the toddler’s location, activity level, sleep, heart rate and temperature. The accompanying app prompts caregivers to update a timeline with photos, quick status reports and an assessment of the child’s mood, choosing from the app’s preset options.
Parents can quickly recognize a message from a caregiver with an emoji in the style of a typical social media interaction, though everything is private inside the Littlebird app.
Littlebird uses Bluetooth to establish a connection with the caregiver’s device, which creates additional capabilities. If a toddler strays too far from a nanny or educator in the playground, for example, the device will alert the parent so they can make sure everything is okay.
Bluetooth functionality also enables transfers between licensed caregivers, so parents know who is in charge of a child at any given time. Individual caregivers can be connected to up to seven children at a time via the app, creating the possibility of using the device with multiple children in a daycare centre, for example.
This multi-child tracking capability was one of the features Plath couldn’t find in standard devices, which inspired her to create Littlebird.
As a mother, she said, “I couldn’t wait for someone else to fix it for me.”