It often makes me laugh when I see a news article about sleep deprivation tests. Typically the subjects cannot make it past about a week on less than 4 hours sleep a night. I laugh in their faces. “Try going 15 months of 4 hours sleep a night,” I say to myself, “a week? you’re weak!”.
And so would be echoed the world over by parents of new babies. One new dad, however, has taken his lack of sleep seriously and has hacked a webcam to analyze his sleeping baby and tell him when the baby is hungry. Where was this man 5 years ago when I needed him?
Caleb Olson added additional code to the webcam which now uses AI to detect the baby’s signs of hunger. The camera then alerts Olson before the baby starts crying. Olsen can then go and feed the baby before his sleeping wife is disturbed.
After meticulously stalking mommy forums, Olsen learnt that a baby crying often means that it is in late-stage hunger. This can sometimes make feeding more difficult if left until this point, so Olsen got to work on finding a solution.
The camera monitors for telltale signs of hunger. These include lip smacking (a repeated opening and closing of the mouth), rejecting a pacifier, rooting and moving the head back and forth in order to find a food source, and bringing fists towards the mouth.
Olson assigned these behaviours different levels of importance, and as they’re detected, they contribute to an overall score. Once the score passes a certain threshold, Olson’s smartphone gets a notification indicating that his baby is ready to be fed. Sometimes a pacifier accidentally falls out of a baby’s mouth, or a yawn may look like the beginning of lip-smacking when it’s just a yawn.
Olsen admits that his system isn’t 100% foolproof. However, for new parents just trying to get through the next day, even an extra hour of sleep is a valuable commodity.
Seriously, this man needs a medal!