raybaby is not a video monitor. Ask us why!

Imagine this:

In NYC, a 3-year old is woken up every night by a male voice coming from his baby monitor. The voice – most certainly not his father – says, “Wake up, little boy. Daddy’s looking for you.”

In Houston, a nanny playing with her 1-year old charge is startled when a voice from the monitor says, “That’s a really poopy diaper.” She has no idea how long they’ve been watched.

In another report, a 5-year old goes running to his mom, saying, “It’s not daddy talking to me!”

A couple in Houston were woken up from sleep by a male voice screaming expletives in the nursery. Thinking there was a kidnapper in the house, they rushed to the nursery, and realized it was coming from their baby video monitor. In the minutes it took to turn off the WiFI and the monitor, they had to endure further taunts from the hacker, who was enjoying their shock and fear.

The fear about video monitors is a real one and we wanted to talk about it here . The news is pretty disturbing – the stories are often about those who are screaming or talking loudly and being vocal, but there are as many stealthy hackers who are quietly taking it all in – watching mothers nurse their babies, watching babies play, sleep… the lack of privacy is a serious and real concern.

In the evolution of baby monitors, video monitors were an improvement over audio monitors and considered very useful but perhaps the focus was more on the feature and less on equipping it with adequate security protocols. No one seems to have thought it through to privacy, or considered the possibility of hacking. Consequently, the problem with video monitors and their high vulnerability to hacking, makes you not just accessible but also visible.

Today’s video monitors also double as sensors or trackers to detect baby’s movements and vitals. Which means that without video, the sensors are rendered ineffective. In the case of a baby monitor that had a built in thermostat, a hacker not only invaded privacy but raised the temperature in the nursery where a seven month old lay, to a dangerous 90 F!

The big question then, is:

Must a monitor use video to track a baby’s sleep or vitals? Can there be a less invasive, worrisome way to do so?

These are questions we’ve asked when we planned the raybaby design. Our problem statement was similar: How can parents track their baby’s breathing without strapping an electronic device or using video.

Building raybaby from this premise led us to radar, a technology that offers greater accuracy than any available technology, and has been proven successful in vitals tracking. Choosing radar also does away with a dependence on video to do the job.

However, video still remains an attractive feature in a baby monitor. Many parents say they’d like to be able to see their baby when they are away. Then, there are some who go as far as to cover their video cameras! Taking this into consideration, we chose to offer video but an optional feature, a bonus feature at best. Alongside this, we’ve made sure that the control rests with the parent who can navigate the audio-video part of raybaby from the app, choosing not to enable it at all, should they prefer it that way.

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