Maruša and Matej Košir & Family
One of the most rewarding aspects of covering tech startups is finding out how innovators have applied technology to solve problems, whether personal or global. Young parents Maruša and Matej Košir of Slovenia drew from their own parenting experience to design the Smart Froc, the world's first smart high chair that includes built-in weight sensors below the seat. The sensors communicate with smart phones via Bluetooth 4.0 to engage with a Smart Froc app that has an algorithm for normal weight/age trends. Should the child's weight data register as above or below average, the app will alert the parent - and the info may be shared with the child's pediatrician.
Weight is one of the key indicators of a baby's health and development, says pediatrician Dr. Aleksandar Dordevski MD. The app also assists in ensuring proper food intake, which may help fight childhood obesity.
The couple didn't start out in the tech arena. "When our son Taj was born, my husband and I were looking for a practical, safe, modern high chair but everything we found was either based on a 40-year old design, made of plastic, or really unsafe," shares Maruša. "We went into the development of a new high chair."
From the earliest prototypes, the Froc chairs have been crafted from wood. Matej says, "As more than 50% of Slovenia is covered with forests and the region we come from boasts a centuries old tradition of wood-making artisans and craftsmen, it's not surprising we've gotten involved in wood-making and developing all natural products made from wood. We made Froc better-equipped for modern families but we wanted to create something unique. What if you could monitor your child's development - using the high chair?"
In collaboration with the Faculty of Electro Engineering and Slovenia's I of I Makerlab, the couple built weight sensors under the seat that would connect with a smart phone app.
A baby's weight as charted over a period of time gives parents and their pediatricians a clear picture of the baby's progress or of any feeding problems - and one of the biggest concerns of parents is whether a baby has received the right amount during feeding time. Parental stress can transfer to the child, resulting in feeding problems during the first few months when the baby is nursed or bottle-fed or after six months when most children have been introduced to solids. Regular weight monitoring remains important as parents may be unsure if a meal includes enough solid food or whether the solid food sufficiently replaces milk.
The couple designed the Smart Froc to store data to a smart phone or tablet so parents can track progress over time. Earlier non-smart models, as well as the Smart Froc, are adjustable to be used from six months to ten years old. In addition, the chair was designed to be compact to store under the table. When the family is eating, the Froc can be placed at the table so the baby can interact with the rest of the family.
The Koširs have made 100 prototypes while raising money on Kickstarter. They have raised over $3,300 to date and the campaign ends October 31. The Smart Froc is expected to go into full production around mid-November.
For more information on the Smart Froc, see the company's Kickstarter page.