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Baby Sock Wirelessly Monitors Breathing, Heart Rate

Jaren Wilkey/BYU (NEW YORK) -- Fifty percent fashion accessory and 50 percent medical implement, a new baby-health-monitoring device brings 100 percent relief to new parents.

Developed by a student team at Brigham Young University, the sock-like device, dubbed the Owlet Baby Monitor, fits snugly on a baby’s foot and wirelessly relays information about heart rate and blood oxygen level to the smartphones of anxious parents.

The prototype took first prize and $6,000 in winnings in the Student Innovator of the Year competition held Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 at the BYU campus in Provo, Utah.

“We looked for innovation, engineering, and marketability in our entrants,” Justin Siros, a BYU professor and faculty adviser to the third annual competition, told ABCnews.com. “They met those criteria so well. But also, their entry has the potential to save lives.”

Team spokesman Jacob Colvin, 28, a European studies major, believes the invention will add to parents’ peace of mind as well as lower infant mortality rates.

“Obviously, SIDS is a disease with an unknown cause,” Colvin told ABCnews.com. “But, hopefully, the device can give parents time to react and see that something’s wrong before it’s too late.”

Doctors believe one cause of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, might be the buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood, which the Owlet Baby Monitor can keep tabs on. By warning parents through their mobile devices, the researchers believe their invention could mean fewer SIDS deaths.

Colvin was careful to credit team members Kurt Workman and Tenor Hodges, who first had the idea for the monitor over the summer.

The group effort, as Colvin calls it, has since snowballed. Though much work remains, Colvin said the Owlet Baby Monitor had quickly become a serious business venture.

“We’ve got a patent pending. In the next few months, we will be much closer to bringing this thing to market.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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