The SNOO robotic bassinet solves three of the biggest problems new parents face: exhaustion, a crying baby they can’t calm, and feelings of incompetence when they are unsure of what steps to take to help their child and themselves. Based on the 5 S’s soothing technique developed by pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, SNOO reacts to a baby’s cries and movements to help babies get the sleep they need and help parents get the peace of mind they need.
“When the first real robot was installed in a factory in 1961, it looked nothing like the longer-established, generally humanoid—and more often than not malevolent—robots of the human imagination,” said J. Marc Greuther, chief curator of The Henry Ford. “Those first industrial robots, given a measure of élan by designers at Walter Dorwin Teague Associates, spawned descendants that have expanded and reprogrammed our sense of what a robot can look like—a long multi-axis arm on a pedestal, still with a whiff of the sinister. SNOO looks nothing like a robot—nor does it look like the lacily-camouflaged offhand tubular-framed bassinet that graced our bedroom after my son’s birth.”
While SNOO’s experience was predetermined by the 5 S system, it was important to create a substantive but straightforward experience for parents. SNOO is easy to use, even in the middle of the night. Parents easily zip the baby into the swaddle and hook the swaddle into the crib. Then SNOO does all the work.
When the baby cries, a parent can simply push SNOO’s button, and it automatically responds with five levels of gradually stronger white noise and motion to find the best level to soothe the fussing child. If the baby does not calm down after three minutes, the parent will know that the baby requires more than just comforting.
SNOO also helps babies establish circadian rhythms to establish a day-night sleep schedule more quickly. After a feeding, SNOO will lessen the time it takes for an infant to be rocked back to sleep. And with automatic weaning, SNOO trains babies to self-soothe so they can eventually sleep through the night and transition to a crib.
“SNOO received the Curator’s Choice Award for its cheerful presence, clean lines, and its inventive and effective deployment of robotic technology in everyday life."
—Mark Greuther, Head Curator, The Henry Ford
Each element of SNOO was considered for its safety, functional efficiency, material quality and comfort. For the main enclosure, the curved structural elements hold a double layer of mesh. Three microphones detect the baby’s cry and distinguish it from outside noises. Below the mattress sit the sensors, speakers and a robotic engine that power SNOO’s intelligent response. The outer layer of mesh has larger openings to facilitate the flow of fresh air and to make the baby visible, a feature that enhances parents’ feeling of connection to, and protection of, their baby. The inner layer of mesh is extremely flexible, moving with the swinging motion. The SNOO sack holds the baby with the perfect amount of snug to emulate the womb while maintaining a comfortable temperature and affording the swinging motion that rocks the baby to sleep.
The swaddle is also equipped with a set of attachment points that secure the sack onto both sides of the sleeper and prevent the baby from accidentally rolling into an unsafe position. This feature is so important that SNOO’s action is blocked unless both swaddle wings are properly hooked in place.
SNOO is also a connected device. The app allows parents to see at a glance exactly which one of the five levels has been activated. Parents are very interested in knowing how much their babies are sleeping—the number of naps they take, how long it takes them to go to sleep, the number of times they wake during the night. Upcoming versions of the app will self-populate that information to offer parents daily read-outs of their baby’s sleep patterns.
“SNOO received the Curator’s Choice Award,” explained Greuther, “for its cheerful presence, clean lines, and its inventive and effective deployment of robotic technology in everyday life. And also for offering yet another example of how a robot can take non-humanoid form: After all, we seem remarkably adept at perpetuating ourselves in our own form—why else would we need a bassinet in the first place?”
Designed by Yves Béhar, IDSA, Qin Li, Michelle Dawson and fuseproject design team and Dr. Harvey Karp of Happiest Baby