BabyZen - vNext Prototype

Roughly a year after the original BabyZen device the successor prototype is ready for a test ride.

The original BabyZen device combines the ideas and philosophy of a traditional baby monitor with IoT and data analysis. One of the major disadvantages, however, was that neither an audio stream, nor a video stream has been transported by the device. Also some of the demanded metrics (e.g., heart rate) are dubious (who wants to wire his/her child up?) at best. Now the successor tries to achieve both: A simpler solution with more (traditional) possibilities.

First, and foremost the underlying hardware platform has been changed. Instead of using the awesome TI CC3200 we decided to go for the more powerful Intel Edison. This does not only give us Bluetooth for free, but also the ability to code in Node.js directly.

Second, instead of using a custom-edged PCB that is placed as a booster pack (i.e., extension board) on the SoC we used a generic extension board together with small pre-edged PCBs for the individual sensors. This gave us a rather fast and smooth development process.

Finally, the Intel Edison also features an USB port. We use this port to connect a standard (1080p) webcam with stereo microphone. The Edison is not powerful enough to guarantee smooth 1080p streaming, but for our purposes a low resolution (e.g., 320x240) is sufficient.

The final prototype looks as follows.

All in all the prototype now has to prove that it can sustain the load of being used on a daily basis. Furthermore, the platform of distributing the video - even outside the home network - has yet to be built. But having a generic (and highly performing) IoT backend is already a good start!

Will the new version be turned into a real product? Who knows at this point in time. All I can write is that building this version was a lot of fun. The options and potential of the Edison Arduino platform are vast.

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