Inside R/GA's Drive to Play the Startup Game


In early December, Owlet CEO Kurt Workman and industrial designer Michael Bunn reached an impasse over a baby monitor.

The two scheduled a meeting with Ivan Kayser, their mentor at R/GA’s connected device accelerator, because they couldn’t settle on how to best represent their device to new parents. Owlet’s Internet-enabled baby bootie, in development since 2012, goes beyond merely recording babies’ sighs and screams. It measures oxygen level in the nursery, heart rate, skin temperature, sleep quality and sleep position — and then sends that information to a parent’s smartphone.

Workman and Bunn were worried that might be too much. Parents probably don’t want to be overwhelmed with data when they wake up in the middle of the night; they simply want to know if their baby needs tending to, they thought. Kayser, a partner at design firm Siberia, was there to help.