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Enable bonding between premature neonates and parents

  • Bo.by enable bonding between premature neonates and parents

  • Bo.by enable bonding between premature neonates and parents

    Bo.by enable bonding between premature neonates and parents

  • Bo.by enable bonding between premature neonates and parents

  • Bo.by - the general idea

  • Parent device Design development: prototyping, testing, evaluating.

  • Mattress Design development: prototyping, testing, evaluating.

Was es macht

Preterm babies are often deprived of precious skin-to-skin contact with parents, which affects their health and development. Bo.by helps premature infants regain the sensory-rich experience of bonding with their parents in situations where this is not possible

Deine Inspiration

Digging in researches on emotions and senses, I found out how important touch is for infants, especially preterm born. Then I asked myself a question: Could you imagine not being able to touch, hug or even hold a hand with your newborn child? Each year 15 million babies are born preterm around the World and need to be immediately assigned to the NICU. Separated, left alone in the incubator, they are fighting for life. Often alone, deprived of touch or rich skin-to-skin presence of their parents, due to their medical conditions, hospital policy, pandemic or mothers assigned to another hospital. Why not give them a chance to regain bonding?

So funktioniert es

Bo.by is a set of two wirelessly connected devices: a portable parent device and the baby mattress inside the incubator, on which the infant lies in the NICU. Each of the devices consists of sensors enabling sensing, collecting and sending data to the other one, such as touch, breast movement and vibration, heartbeat, body heat or smell and electronics enabling receiving and replaying such data from another one. Thanks to such a solution, both: parents and their premature infant can experience indirect touch and rich, full-sense bonding of the other, even in situations where it would not be possible. When the mother lies the parent device on her chest, the interactive part moves according to the breath of the infant, she can hear the heartbeat of her child or its body temperature. At the same time, her own data are collected and transmitted to the mattress, so the child lying in the incubator can feel her constant presence via various senses.


After a lot of research about the importance of touch for preemies and their parents, I tried to understand what touch and bonding really are and if it is possible to send them on a distance. Taking apart those two actions, gave me an understanding of their complex matter and the cruciality of every single sense involved such as smell or hear. I interviewed about 100 parents of premature infants and nurses in the NICU to understand the problem. I build a 1:1 incubator mockup to test use cases. I made experiments with various materials, structures, sensors and electronics trying to reproduce and imitate human touch and bonding. Then I did haptic samples with different patterns to evaluate the natural feeling of the parent device. Several prototypes of the parent device helped me to enhance ergonomy. I focused on giving the users the feeling of holding a real child, with proper proportions and weight points, which doesn't look like a doll. Each of the prototypes was tested with users and reevaluated. I did samples of easily shapable materials, for mattress giving the possibility to create a nest around the child. The last part was for me to write a code and connect two devices (mattress and parent device), so they could send information to the other one and replay received values.

Warum es anders ist

Currently, there is almost no other option to bond with preterm born than direct touch via portholes or kangaroo care. However, those can only apply if the child’s conditions allow and parents are close to the incubator. There is no solution, enabling a mother lying in another hospital unit to bond with her own child. No solution when parents can’t stay at NICU or when they are present, but direct contact with the baby is not allowed. Concepts for indirect bonding are only one way (from mother to child), so the mother can’t feel the baby. They are limited with distance and put a focus only on the mother’s breast movement or heartbeat. They skip the most natural and important part of bonding. Bo.by is the only one that allows two-way communication, so both: parents and the baby can feel one another. Its uniqueness lies in involving almost all senses in the process of indirect bonding and enriches bonding with additional values such as vibration or temperature.

Pläne für die Zukunft

I would love to test my idea with parents and their infants to check if this solution will have an impact on the infant's recovery, reducing stress and establishing a bond between parents and the child. I would also like to focus on the further development of the technology and sensors inside the device to provide a more natural feeling. The next major step would be for me to evaluate materials fulfilling all safety and medical requirements. I hope that one-day Bo.by would be a solution for parents whose child lies alone in the incubator and cannot be taken out, enabling them to bond with the baby, even when direct contact is not permited.


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