Okay, so we’re not quite at the point when Alexa is capable of cleaning your newborn’s butt or tucking your toddler into bed. But the Amazon Alexa Fund, which is designed to invest in voice tech innovation, has just poured an undisclosed sum of money into smart nursery company Hatch Baby.
Hatch Baby creates all kinds of baby products, including a smart changing pad that tracks your baby’s weight and other metrics while you’re changing the diaper. For older kids, it has a night light, which doubles as a sound machine and an indicator that says it’s time to get up. All of these devices are connected to an app, which helps parents control them, and also track their children’s interaction with them. The company, which launched in 2014 and was featured on Shark Tank in 2016, already sold well on Amazon before this infusion of cash. It has sold more than 200,000 products, and is one of the top 100 baby products on the marketplace.
Hatch says that it will expand its integration with Alexa and other Amazon services. This means incorporating voice technology into devices. “We see parenting and health and wellness as two areas where voice can make customers’ lives simpler,” Paul Bernard, the director of the Alexa Fund, said in a statement. “Hatch Baby has a clear vision of how Alexa and other Amazon services can help them better support parents.”
As a mother of a toddler, I can see the value in having voice activated functions on my baby products, since my hands are often occupied while taking care of my child. I was also very obsessive about tracking her health metrics when she was an infant, to make sure I wasn’t royally messing up as a new parent.
But it’s also terrifying to think that devices like this will be able to hear, record, and track every aspect of a child’s life from birth. While Amazon provides assurances that all of the data Alexa records is highly secure, we’ve seen instances when recordings have been unintentionally sent to the wrong person. For any parent, the worst possible nightmare scenario with these devices would be if their baby’s data was hacked, or somehow found its way into the hands of a nefarious actor.