You post your first sonogram photo on Facebook to let the world know you’re pregnant and now your yet-too-be-born baby can tweet from the womb? How? Pregnant women can wear a special belt around their belly called the Kickbee, the Twittering fetal activity monitor. When her baby rocks a roundhouse, she’ll feel the little (or big) movement and so with the Kickbee, which will send an update off to Twitter or Dad-to-Be’s iPhone, bragging, “I kicked Mommy!” Sound a little too techy for such a personal moment? Or maybe like a little too much information for all of your friends, family members and followers?
Maybe everyone doesn’t need to hear about every kick, but Kickbee creator and father Corey Menscher wasn’t just thinking about another way to microblog or do something cool with technology (or not entirely). Inspired by his then pregnant wife, the NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program graduate wanted to help dads get in on some of the action that moms feel 24/7 during pregnancy.
In a perfect world, when your baby kicks, you might grab your husband’s hand to place it on your belly so he can experience one of your baby’s first movements, too. Well, at least some of the time. But what if he’s at work, or if you’re at work, or if he’s serving in Iraq, or if you’re traveling cross country? Dad misses out on the one-of-a-kind experience. So Mensher wanted to come up with a way to connect parents during pregnancy even when they can’t be in kicking distance of each other.
The Kickbee is a stretchy band with vibration sensors covered by soft fabric. Baby’s movements are captured by a microcontroller in the Kickbee, which transmits the signals wirelessly to a computer program. The software then analyzes the movement to determine if it was a kick. Kicks can be shared on Twitter or as text messages via Twitter. The Kickbee is especially fun for data fiends who can use the tummy tweets for archiving or creating graphics. And won’t you be jealous if your tweeting fetus has more followers than you!
The Kickbee is part of a larger project Menscher is working on called the Honeycomb, which aims to connect parents that are physically separated through many stages of babyhood. Also included in the project: The Burbee, a burp cloth that transmits the warmth of your little one to Dad through a special heater-equipped button down shirt that he wears; and the Bathbee, which uses a rubber ducky receiver in your tots tub to transmit the scent of baby oil to a children’s lunchbox turned air freshener.