The Teddy Guardian looks like a normal teddy bear. He's got big ears and a squishy nose. And he feels soft and warm to the touch. The difference is what's inside. He's full of sensors to track the vital signs of the kid who is playing with him.
Developed in southern Europe, the Teddy is designed to help medical staff take measurements like heart rate, oxygen saturation, temperature, and stress levels. When a child holds the bear close, it sends readings to a tablet or smartphone.
"We realized that kids often get stressed when you have to measure them," says Josipa Majic, who invented Teddy with her partner Ana Burica. "Nurses usually give children plush toys to calm them down and distract them, then they use medical devices. We said to them 'why don't we use a combination of the plush toy and the sensors embedded inside?'"
As well as taking measurements, nurses and parents can also communicate with their children remotely by playing songs and recording bedtime stories through the toy.
Majic and Burica, two masters students from Zagreb, Croatia, have a working prototype and have already tested the Teddy at pediatric clinics and kindergartens. So far, the Teddy has produced similar results to conventional equipment, Majic says--just without the fuss that normally goes with getting a child to co-operate.
Actually, she believes the device could improve on today's measurements, because kids are more relaxed. "Pediatricians will get better data, because when children get very stressed out the data is skewed. The body temperature and heart rate increases and they fail to understand how the child actually feels."
Majic and Burica have received almost $100,000 in pre-orders, and now plan to send full products to hospitals for further trials. Majic says a consumer product may follow, though that's not the focus currently.