My wife and I are currently in the process of setting up a nursery ahead of the arrival of our firstborn. Besides the cot, rocking chair and other assorted baby-related furniture there's also some great tech that can – and will – be implemented into baby's first bedroom. It's actually a nerds dream that you can so easily connect the nursery, and the first piece of that is the smart baby monitor.
I just picked up ours and it's a BT Smart Audio baby monitor with iPhone and iPad integration. What's more amazing right now is that this particular model is actually a couple of years old at this point. Age is nothing but a number, but it's going to help easily and effectively keep an ear on our baby when we put it down to sleep.
The unit itself is incredibly simple and actually looks pretty nice – as nice as something like this can look. Since it's just a receiver all it needs on the exterior really is a microphone, housed here behind the small mesh panel on the front.
All the controls of the monitor are housed within BT's – sadly woefully out of date – iPhone application. There's no dedicated iPad app but you're able to run the iPhone one just fine. You set up the connection first by connecting the phone to the monitor, then following the instructions to connect the monitor to your home WiFi network. Being on your WiFi means you can pair more than one iOS device to the same audio feed.
I mentioned that the iPhone app to accompany this baby monitor is out of date, and by that I mean it's not been updated for an iOS 7 world. That means an old design but it also means it doesn't make use of what's underneath in iOS 7, like running in the background for one.
As such you've got to keep the app open to hear what's going on. Or you can opt for notifications via push, email or SMS when the monitor hears your baby crying for a pre-determined length of time beginning at 30 seconds. Until the baby arrives, I can't really test how accurate this is, but honestly, I'll probably be leaving the app open anyway. With both my wife and I having an iPhone as well as there being an iPad in the house, we're fortunate enough that one device can always be dedicated to baby listening.
So, how well does it work? Pretty well, actually. The app allows you to adjust the level of background noise that you need to cancel out and the sound that comes through is crisp and clear – where the sound in this case is a certain writer pretending to be a baby. The important thing is that I'm pretty confident in leaving this device at the side of my baby's cot when it's having a nap and that I'll be able to hear everything.
UK based parents and parents-to-be can currently snag this baby monitor for an incredibly reasonable £19.99, on sale from its previous price point of £49.99. It isn't perfect, but it's absolutely good enough at what it needs to do with the added bonus of only needing to carry an iPhone as I move about the house. It'd be nice if BT had included Android support sometime down the line since they launched this product, though.
Looking beyond what I've purchased, I'll admit to being impressed by other products on the market in the smart baby monitor space. Withings, for example, has a pretty incredible looking smart baby monitor with HD video, soothing lighting and the ability to talk to your baby among other things. It's also quite pricey at €249.95 but it's still incredible to think that such a thing exists for the nursery. It's pretty much the Ferrari of baby monitors.
At various price points between the two already mentioned are more options from BT, Motorola, and one from a company called Hush that works with both iOS and Android as well as any web browser, and has night vision as well as remote control capabilities for the camera. Personally speaking I'm not so interested in a camera, but the choice available is truly impressive.
I've got a bunch of other ideas on connected tech I want to integrate into my baby's nursery, some may come off, some may not. But I'm really happy so far starting out with such a clever, and important piece of equipment.
If you've got any experiences – good or bad – with smart baby monitors in your own nursery, be sure to shout out in the comments below!