Asthma is the most common chronic condition in children, affecting an estimated 6.1 million children in the US, according to the American Lung Association. It's also the third leading cause of hospitalisation for kids.
AireSone Junior, on Kickstarter now for $172, aims to help parents better monitor their children's respiratory problems, and have peace of mind and avoid falling victim to anxiety as they're looking after their child.
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It's a small device that includes sensors to track your child's heart rate, respiratory wellness and sleep quality. It uses acoustic sensors to listen to your child's breathing while also listening for signs like wheezing or coughing to see if something is up. If something is wrong, it'll alert parents to take action. It also feeds parents, via a companion app, with real-time information about breathing. Plus, there's a score called Aire Score that'll give parents a simplified look at how well their child is doing.
The AireSone Junior is only meant to be worn by children three and up while sleeping. The idea is to take it off your kid in the morning and put it on its charging dock so its ready for the next night. The device was actually born out of personal experience.
CEO Adrian Ang tells Wareable that he suffered from asthma when he was a child, and he remembers the anxiety on his mother's face when she rushed him to the hospital. His mother would also spend many sleepless nights worrying if he'd have an attack while sleeping, so the AireSone Junior is aimed toward parents like his mother, an effort to assure them that things are going to be okay.
However, as we've seen with other children's wellness wearables – like Owlett – there's a danger in both false positives and negatives. "We have done a clinical study in 2013 and in the clinical study we achieved 85% sensitivity, which is a kind of accuracy," Ang says. "We did not have problems with false negatives, but there may be cases where we're facing false positives instead. How this is happening is because we're using acoustic sensors. Acoustic sensors pick up sounds from the chest."
If there are other sounds in the area, it's possible that the AireSone Junior picks those up and its readings turn up wrong. Specifically, Ang notes that in areas where sound exceeds 65dBs – like if a TV is on loud or you're in the vicinity of an aeroplane – things could get dicey.
However, the device's algorithms are only supposed to deliver alerts to parents when it hears a dip in respiratory rate mixed with detected wheezing and coughing. That lessens the chance the device thinks it hears something wrong. So if your child's respiratory rate dips for whatever reason, that won't set off any alarms unless wheezing or coughing is also detected.
Parents can also choose to share their child's data with physicians and family members. AireSone doesn't see any identified data, like gender. Parents can share data with AireSone if they wish to help the company improve its algorithm, which Ang says it wants to do in the next couple years.
The AirSone Junior uses a hypoallergenic sleeve so you shouldn't have to worry about skin sensitivity or anything like that when placing it on your child. That sleeve comes in three character options: Bobo the Bear, Fitto the Frog and Ollie the Owl. Each character has its own backstory that children with breathing problems could relate to: Bobo has dizziness, Fitto has trouble breathing when exercising and Ollie doesn't sleep well.
A question even King Solomon would struggle with. It's clear that the AireSone Junior comes from a place of understanding. Ang knows what it's like to live as a child with breathing difficulties, and he understands the anxiety of parents too.
If you relate, it's difficult not to recommend checking out the AireSone Junior. If it gives you even a little peace of mind, it's worth it. The bigger question is whether the company can deliver on what it promises because – as always – hardware is hard.
Ang tells Wareable the company has been researching technology for most of the past 10 years, getting started back in 2009. For the past two years, it's focused on commercialisation. The device itself was mostly done back in 2013 after clinical trials.
The reason it's on Kickstarter? Manufacturing. The company wants to jump at least 1,000 orders so that it can get reduced manufacturing pricing because of scale. Of course, manufacturing is a difficult process that can take a long time, so it's not clear if AireSone will make its goal of June 2019.
Regardless, if you're a parent who believes that the AireSone Junior can give you even a little slice of peace of mind then it's worth becoming a backer. Not only to help yourself, but to potentially give other parents the same peace of mind.