Cradling an en­ter­prise with the bot­tle

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HK | BUSINESS -

It seems the sky’s the limit for tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion. Moth­ers and would-be moth­ers can now breathe a sigh of re­lief when it comes to the prob­lem of feed­ing their new­borns while they’re busy at work. A smart bot­tle de­vice can do the job safely and re­li­ably, and pro­vide data up­dat­ing par­ents on their in­fants’ con­sump­tion sta­tus.

Imag­ine you’re go­ing to feed your new­born baby and, after a “bip”, the con­sump­tion, fre­quency and tem­per­a­ture get au­to­mat­i­cally recorded and graphed, al­low­ing you to mon­i­tor the in­fant’s con­sump­tion sta­tus when you’re work­ing. Isn’t that nice?

The job can now be done by Feed­ibaby — a smart bot­tle de­vice in­vented by Ju­liana Ko and her team com­pris­ing three grad­u­ates of the Hong Kong Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy. It can keep track of, re­call and an­a­lyze a baby’s feed­ing and growth in­for­ma­tion by mea­sur­ing the weight dif­fer­ence of the bot­tle be­fore and after feed­ing. The data, with a 15-day lo­cal stor­age, can be sent to an app on a smart­phone via blue­tooth and up­dated to clouds.

Ko, who is a co­founder and one of the in­ven­tors of Feed­ibaby, started de­sign­ing the de­vice two years ago. It con­sists of two parts, a dock and an adapter. The dock op­er­ates like a mini elec­tronic scale, w h i c h c a n s e n s e d i ff e r e n t kinds of phys­i­cal data, such as weight and tem­per­a­ture. Dif­fer­ent from other smart bot­tle de­vices avail­able in the mar­ket, Feed­ibaby gets patent for the adapter, which can fit al­most any type of feed­ing bot­tle into the dock. It means users don’t have to buy a spe­cial type of bot­tle from the com­pany mak­ing the smart de­vice.

“Hong Kong par­ents are very de­mand­ing con­cern­ing the safety and re­li­a­bil­ity of a feed­ing bot­tle’s ma­te­rial. They may be re­luc­tant to buy feed­ing bot­tles from small startup com­pa­nies. Be­sides, some in­fants pre­fer cer­tain kinds of feed­ers. It’s hard to force a new one on them. To com­pete with other mak­ers of smart bot­tle de­vices, our in­ven­tion is flex­i­ble in use with re­gard to al­most all feed­ing bot­tles. Par­ents can still stick to their orig­i­nal bot­tles while us­ing our prod­uct,” Ko tells China Daily.

As most par­ents are usu­ally busy at work, with lit­tle time to take care of their ba­bies, and tra­di­tional Chi­nese grand­par­ents tend to feed ba­bies in ex­cess, in­fants are prone to obe­sity and nu­tri­ent ex­cess prob­lems.

A c c o r d i n g t o t h e Wo r l d Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), the num­ber of over weight chil­dren un­der the age of five glob­ally is es­ti­mated to ex­ceed 42 mil­lion by 2015, with nearly half of them in Asia.

“I had talked to some moth­ers be­fore work­ing on this prod­uct. I found quite a lot of them are wor­ried about their ba­bies’ sta­tus while they are at work. I my­self in­tend to con­tinue work­ing after be­com­ing a mother in fu­ture, and this gave me the in­spi­ra­tion to come up with the de­vice and start the busi­ness,” says Ko.

Feed­ibaby is equipped with sci­en­tific data from the WHO and big data, pro­vid­ing the most up­dated healthy bench­marks for par­ents to mon­i­tor their ba­bies’ health sta­tus.

Ac­cord­ing to Ko, their main funds for set­ting up the en­ter­prise came from cash prize awards, and they launched a crowd­fund­ing ex­er­cise in mid May. Cus­tomers can now get the prod­uct after plac­ing their or­ders on­line.

“One of our users dur­ing the trial pe­riod said Feed­ibaby is por­ta­ble and easy to op­er­ate. The only thing you need to do is push­ing the but­ton, and all the data are ready for you. It’s also con­ve­nient to carry it when trav­el­ing.”

Ko says her team, how­ever, is fac­ing chal­lenges in pro­mot­ing the brand. “Feed­ibaby is the world’s first smart dock to keep track of diet con­sump­tion, while Hong Kong par­ents are usu­ally more con­ser­va­tive about new prod­ucts.”

And, as ma­ter­nity leave in Hong Kong and on the Chi­nese main­land is rel­a­tively s h o r t , s h e’s u p b e a t a b o u t fu­ture sales. “A proper diet record of ba­bies shared among all fam­ily mem­bers is not only es­sen­tial for a baby’s health, but a har­monic re­la­tion­ship within the fam­ily.”

Ko is look­ing be­yond Hong Kong to boost the prod­uct, may be even putting up a dog and pony show. She’s seek­ing co­op­er­a­tion with baby brands in Eu­rope and the United States, and sees the Chi­nese main­land as a huge po­ten­tial mar­ket in view of the re­lax­ation of China’s onechild pol­icy, and Chi­nese par­ents’ un­shak­able love for their chil­dren. Talks with main­land dis­trib­u­tors are on the cards.

As a fe­male en­tre­pre­neur, Ko points out she de­votes a lot of at­ten­tion to cer­tain de­tails in busi­ness that may tend to be over­looked by her male coun­ter­parts.

“There’re many op­por­tu­ni­ties that are eas­ier for fe­male en­trepreneurs to ob­tain, such as in the field of fem­i­nine and baby prod­ucts. So, it’s im­por­tant they stay pas­sion­ate and pa­tient and sup­port each other. We can and we should strive for a bet­ter fu­ture to­gether.”

I my­self in­tend to con­tinue work­ing after be­com­ing a mother in fu­ture, and this gave me the in­spi­ra­tion to come up with the de­vice and start the busi­ness.”

Ju­liana Ko,

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