Like much of his best thinking, the idea of Sensoria Baby came to Kevin Furnari when he was lying awake in bed. It was just fortuitous that the Furnaris’ 2-month-old infant, Sebastian, was keeping him awake at night at the time.
“It’s really incredible because everyone has ideas and we all sit there at night thinking of ideas and ever wondering if they could become reality,” said Furnari, who has recently been stationed in Savannah as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army.
Furnari had no experience with design or invention but his first-hand experience as a worried father led him to come up with an idea for a smart one-piece baby garment that can alert parents to irregularities in their infant’s sleeping pattern.
The resulting product, Sensoria Baby is now patented and will be launching its Kickstarter for early phase adopters this coming month*.
The primary utility for Sensoria Baby is not just to placate worrying parents but to to monitor, alert and reduce the risk of a disease classified by the CDC as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome which is the accidental death from suffocation, said Sensoria CEO Davide Vigano. In the U.S., 1,600 babies die annually from this affliction. The medical community does not know the cause of SIDS which makes the worry extra daunting for parents. Additionally, the CDC estimates 3,600 infants die in the U.S. suddenly and unexpectedly.
Some working theories as to the cause of the disease range from a genetic defect to a problem with the brain that controls breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and waking from sleep.
That’s where Sensoria Baby comes in. The onesie comes equipped with sensors that can track an infant’s sleep time and breathing rate and wakes up parents through telephone or Bluetooth of any irregularities. One of the ultimate ways this improves the quality of life of new parents is simply allowing them to sleep peacefully which, as many new parents know, is a rare commodity.
“When you’re very exhausted at 3 a.m., you end up co-sleeping with the baby,” Vigano said. “This creates a lot of challenges for the baby because the baby doesn’t have muscles and cannot move.”
Another feature of the body suit is that it alerts the parents to excessive pressure.
After thinking of the idea and brainstorming with his wife, Furnari decided to test the market and put his idea out there.
Jaqueline, his wife, has a background in accounting and currently handles the financial details of the business.
“It was daunting at first, but we got several responses [up front], so it was very comforting,” Furnari said on testing out the open market with no experience.
This is where the Seattle-based company Sensoria came in. Founded in 2011, the company is a pioneer in fabric sensors and primarily specializes in athletic wear.
“Kevin reached out to us, [and] we shared the same vision: to make wearable technology, invisible to the human eye,” Vigano said.
Over the course of over a year, the pair worked out the integration of the textile sensors to create a complete prototype. The entire process was remote between Vigano, the Furnaris, and the engineering team. To this day, Vigano and the Furnaris have not met in person, but they hope to meet.
Photo courtesy of Media Cultivated Visuals
Hands hold the Sensoria Baby onesie, equipped with sensors that can track an infant’s sleep time and breathing rate.
Furnari and his wife have only been based in Savannah a month but they have been enamored with the city since vacationing three years ago and Furnari pushed for a transfer to nearby Hunter Army Airfield from his previous posting at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
It is not just that they love the city, but there are a number of advantages to Savannah for his small business.
Savannah’s port capacity is generally third among U.S. metropolitan areas - being Los Angeles/Long Beach and New York/Newark - and third among single cities - behind Los Angeles and Long Beach - according to most indexes. Furnari is seeing strong interest for his product in Europe and that sector has grown 54% between 2013 and 2017 according to DB Schenker.
Another huge factor is that Savannah has a talent pool coming from SCAD.
“Sensoria is a technology company but we’re making things wearable. That would be a major opportunity to connect with them and possibly transform this from not just smart clothing to even be designer clothing,” Vigano said.
Vigano also is aware that Savannah has a culture and history associated with the textile industry that he wants to draw from.
The next stage for Sensoria Baby is to draw a first wave of users and raise money for material costs. The kickstarter will be a tool to create people who get the product at a discount and give feedback about it with which they can review the product and give more feedback.
As for the Furnari family, Sebastian is now 1-and-a-half years old and their next creation should be due soon, as Jaqueline is currently pregnant with their second child.”
Those interested in pre-ordering the Sensoria Baby can visit sensoriababy.com