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It’s hard enough to pitch a startup and raise money, let alone do these things when you have screaming babies in the background. But for one company, crying babies is part of the pitch.
“I would be sitting with friends or family, showing them how [my product] works in a cafe or bar, and then the crying would start,” says Evoz CEO and founder Avishai Shoham. “We would activate a crying baby recording from our office to demonstrate. It was funny to watch people’s reactions to the crying.” Funny, because it’s when the crying starts that the funding starts pouring in.
A young father of two with an MBA from Stanford, he has spent the last two years developing a baby monitor that integrates new technology, iOS software, and a patent crying algorithm. The company is funded by friends and family and a handful of angel investors. Unveiled today, Evoz delivers a huge improvement for the baby monitor sector, which has had little innovation since the monitors became popular in the 1980’s.
“Very little innovation,” Shoham stresses. “The range limit was the number one drawback for old devices. The second was having to carry around a giant hunk of plastic. No one wants to carry a baby monitor around, but they already carry their phone around. The third drawback was static noise. New monitors can even get interference from WiFi.”
The Evoz system requires two iOS devices. This is a great way for parents to put their outdated, unused iPhone to work. You can also purchase a receiver from Evoz (pictured below, currently on back order). One device acts as the receiver and the second connects to WiFi. This provides unlimited range. You can listen in around the clock, or have a text message or phone call notify you after the baby cries for more than 30 seconds.
Video isn’t yet a feature, it’s just audio for now. But expect video in 2012. You get a sense that this company is going to be unveiling new features at high frequency.
“Our product is different from other online monitoring systems in that this is designed specifically for parents,” says Shoham.
He learned that most parents, especially moms, use iPhones. Based on reports, he found that two million moms with children ages zero to four years old use iPhones. Shoham can’t find specific data on Android users but believes based on his testing and interaction with parents that the number is growing fast. He says a monitoring system for Android will be out in the coming months.
Unlike monitors that alert a user when any noise is made, the Evoz monitor understands the difference between a cry and background noise, thanks to its crying algorithm. Shoham and his employees studied the crying sounds of hundreds of children, both real and computer-based, of various ethnicities, ages newborn to 1 1/2. He tested crying with music on, traffic noise and other disruptive sounds. Shoham recalls the days of listening to nonstop crying with a chuckle. Now they listen to real babies, as customers, including investors, use the product for their own children.
“One of our angel investors has two young children,” Shoham says. “He uses the monitor all the time. When he’s away on business, he uses it to stay connected with his kids. There’s more than one use for this device.”
Another Evoz feature is data. Evoz keeps track of how often your child cries and when they cry, and then compares the data to studies on the subject. Evoz worked with doctors and sleep experts to learn what feedback would best serve parents. This data makes Evoz unique from other monitors, including video monitors that are already on the market.
You can get the app in iTunes today. The first two weeks of service are free for testing, and then you sign up for a monthly monitoring subscription of $6.99. The service is in beta, so early users will help Evoz improve the product. You can test the unlimited streaming anywhere in the world, the email and text alerts and data collection.