Watching the video, I felt a little funny: A split screen shows four wailing infants, then suddenly, the mattresses of their bassinets begin to jiggle while simultaneously making a whirring sound akin to that of a blow dryer. One by one, the babies stop their crying and begin to drift into sleep.
This apparently magical contraption is called SNOO, and it’s a “smart sleeper” by renowned Swiss industrial designer Yves Behar developed over five years with top pediatrician and so-called baby whisperer Dr. Harvey Karp (of The Happiest Baby on the Block book fame), who wondered whether robotic technology and artificial intelligence could help babies—and their exhausted parents—get more sleep.
The result of their collaboration is a rocking crib that imitates the rhythms of the womb by responding to a baby’s level of crying and fussiness and adjusting the intensity of motion and white noise accordingly. The SNOO also includes a sleep sack that swaddles the baby and keeps it on its back all night. In fact, the crib will not operate unless the sack is properly secured.
SNOO uses three microphones to detect the baby’s crying and differentiate it from other noise, while below the mattress are sensors, speakers, and a robotic engine that work in tandem to soothe a fussy baby. There are multiple levels of movement—from a slow swinging to tiny jiggles—and sounds—whether rumbling or high-pitched—but if the baby cries for more than three minutes, SNOO will stop, indicating that the baby probably needs something beyond a little rocking. Still, it can run all night long, as long as sleep is what the baby requires.
SNOO can also be controlled by a mobile app, but for those weary of WiFi radiation, a metal shield was added, even though testing showed no exposure. Aesthetically speaking, it’s simple and sleek, featuring a wooden base, hairpin-style legs, and a double layer of mesh for visibility and ventilation. Available for $1,160, SNOO may be the best investment new parents can make.