This Smart Measuring Tape Helps Women Track A Healthy Pregnancy

Who needs fancy-schmancy machines when you have good, old-fashioned tools?

A pregnant woman with a smartphone can pull up dozens of apps to track everything from contractions to nutrition advice. But a new design concept pulls technology back into the physical world: As a woman measures her growing belly with a digital measuring tape, it triggers a tiny printer to spit out information about her baby and her health.


“As the pregnancy progresses, that spool of messages grows, and it serves as a visual metaphor of the day she’s going to pop the baby out,” says Eliz Ayaydin, a grad student in SVA’s Products of Design program, who worked on the design with fellow student Vidhi Goel.

Each week, the expectant mother pulls out the smart tape measure and takes a new measurement. The printer adds new messages about the baby’s development–one week, it might explain that the baby is the size of a lemon, and another, it might explain that the baby has started to grow teeth or hair. At the same time, it also provides some basic health information for the mother.

“There are things that are important to know, like why your vision is blurry, if it’s normal that it hurts to pee, or why you gained 10 pounds in one week,” the designers say.

The device pulls data from resources like the Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy for each printed message. The small, web-connected printer can also print out texts or photos from the mother’s phone, creating a full record of the pregnancy that the family can keep.

Though the design students envisioned the device for the U.S., they also say some version of it could potentially be useful in rural parts of low-income countries where it’s hard for mothers to reach a doctor or keep up to date on health information.

“I think that the whole concept of bringing daily messages about pregnancy to pregnant women’s lives is very important, especially in developing countries where people might not have access to online resources,” says Ayaydin. “I could imagine it being one big printout, if technology wasn’t available for weekly printouts.”


For now, the design is just a concept, and the students don’t have plans to actually make it. But it’s an interesting take on how something that could have been a simple app can be something more.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.