Recently, I bought a Withings (@withings) Smart Baby Monitor. I read about it a while back in TUAW, and I recall reading about their other products, the Wi-Fi Body Scale and Blood Pressure Monitor, all very slick in design and especially iOS-friendly.
My daughter has reached that phase where silence portends disaster, so we have very little use for the standard audio baby monitor and much more use for, essentially, a spy camera in her room to keep an eye on her.
The Smart Baby Monitor is exactly as cool as advertised. It sets itself up with some black magic and is operational within minutes. All you really need to do is plug it in, download the app, and register your account. The device uses Bluetooth to pair to your iPhone or iPad and evidently pulls some wifi information from it as well to join your home network.
Traditional baby monitors use unlicensed frequencies shared by cordless phones and other household devices. Thus, they are limited in range and often struggle with interference from other devices using the same frequency, e.g. accidentally hearing your neighbor’s phone calls using a baby monitor.
So, if you buy a video monitor, you can only use it within range of the base. Not so with the Smart Baby Monitor which has internet connectivity (Internet of Things, FTW!) allowing it to broadcast video to its app.
There is a laundry list of features, but the ones I’ve found most useful are:
1. Because it uses an app to monitor, it’s accessible anywhere you have a data connection. I tried this from a 3G connection while on the road. Worked like a charm.
2. The night vision video quality is pretty good. After I turn out the lights, I’m able to see if my daughter is lying down sleeping or messing around in her crib.
Really, that first one is what sold me, and everything else is gravy.
Luckily, I read about the Smart Baby Monitor long before needing it and starred it in Reader for later. If I had only shopped in a standard retail store, I could easily have spent the same amount without having the same portability. Withings designed their monitor around portable monitoring, which really works for me.
One minor issue for me is that I spend most of my time at a Mac and using an Android phone, two devices without apps, for now. This isn’t a big deal at all, but having an OS X app would be very convenient.
One final note, although the monitor isn’t marketed as such, the Smart Baby Monitor would also make a very good home security device too. Something to think about as the child grows up and wants privacy. At least you can repurpose it.
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