As evidenced by sonogram photos posted to Facebook and the apparent popularity of “ultrasound parties,” pregnancy is a time ripe for sharing. A new startup called BabyWatch is taking those moments digital with the launch of a hardware-software duo that allows mothers to record and send to friends and family their unborn child’s heartbeat.
The system consists of a handheld ultrasound, which connects to a smartphone with an audio cable. The BabyWatch app then creates a visualization of the sound and records beats per minute.
While the app also serves as a pregnancy appointment calendar, BabyWatch’s differentiating feature from other pregnancy tracking apps is GlobalBeat, a social platform through which BabyWatch users can share their pregnancy experiences.
“[Other pregnancy apps] are mostly focusing on the well being of the mother, and they are not focusing on the social aspects of this sound file sharing. And by doing that, we’re are trying to build a community around our product,” said BabyWatch co-founder Urška Sršen.
Sršen and co-founder/CEO Sandro Mur hail from Slovenia and Croatia, respectively, and took BabyWatch through Startup Bootcamp Berlin with the intention of targeting the US market.
BabyWatch closed an angel round of $50,000 and bootstrapped another $50,000 from INU, Sršen and Mur’s previous company. The team brought in another $11,820 from an Indiegogo campaign in July, which also provided test users for the beta version of the app.
Sršen said that BabyWatch is likely to appeal both to women in their first pregnancy, who are excited about the baby’s arrival, and to those who have had difficult pregnancies before and are suffering from anxiety and stress about the outcome. BabyWatch beta users have been using the device once a day or so, to reassure themselves that the baby is doing well.
It’s also, of course, going to be of interest to tech-minded mothers and fathers who are into the quantified self movement. BabyWatch is adding other hardware and features, like a kick counter that tracks fetal movement.
Down the road, the goal is to sync BabyWatch with doctors’ offices as a form of remote monitoring to better pregnancy outcomes, a concept that other startups like Embrace Her Health are working on as well. For now, though, they are focusing on marketing BabyWatch as a commercial product to grow its user base. Given the perennial excitement in a first pregnancy and the current interest in health tracking, it’s safe to say that there’s a pretty sizable market for that.