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Baby Kick Monitor – A Handheld Success

The kickTrak™ kick counter is a handheld device our design and engineering team developed for a physician who wants to make a difference.   

 

Generally, projects proposed to us by private individuals are not a good fit for our team. The product development process can be overwhelming. Burden of the time requirement for effective project management can be demanding. Even though the design and engineering costs are modest (usually about 10% overall) compared to manufacturing and marketing expenses, pre-production expenditures are formidable to most inventors. Some hardy individuals are prepared to see a project through from start to finish and Ob/Gyn, Dr. Diep Nguyen, is a good example.

 

Our client was prepared with a business plan and funding when she visited Omnica.

 

Dr. Nguyen was aware that development of her baby kick counter would be a challenge, but she was ready for action with a business plan and a business advisor. Above all, Diep was passionate about her product and knew it was something expectant mothers would find vitally important. In the U.S., stillbirth claims 26,000 lives each year. Tracking fetal movements with the kick count method could help pregnant women work more closely with their doctors to identify potential problems before their baby's heart rate and future well-being are affected.

 

Easy to operate and interpret.

 

The kickTrak™ kick counter is a handheld device with only two buttons, one for kick counting and the other for elapsed time, recall, and setup. The display shows kick number, pregnancy duration and tracks the days until the due date. To operate the device, the expectant mother presses the "kick" button each time her baby makes a distinct movement. It records the elapsed time between movements 1 and 10. When the tenth event is entered, kickTrak™ charms mom with the tune "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Ten, ten-kick groups may be stored.

 

The handheld device (at right) only has two buttons, one for kicks, and another for mode. The custom LCD shows kick count, pregnancy progress, mode, and pregnancy countdown. 

 

We performed all of the design and engineering, from the initial concept through the handoff to the manufacturer. 

 

With Diep's input, we designed the product from the initial concept through to the transfer to manufacturing – all of the design and engineering of the pink, peanut-shaped device. It's compact, fits the hand nicely, and is easy to use. Aesthetics aside, we do our best to design products that are conventional on a functional level. We are always mindful of "creeping elegance", the tendency to add features and functions beyond the intent of a basic, well-planned product.

 

Disassembled, the components and internal circuit board look rather simple, but simplicity was part of our motivation!  Simplicity shouldn't imply that we compromised when designing the product. We specified a custom LCD for the display graphics, and the integrated micro-controller was chosen for its practical flexibility and ultra low power consumption. The electronic circuit uses very little energy to give the user-installed batteries a life of at least nine months, enough time to have a healthy baby.