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An Infant Tracking Device Could Save a Baby’s Life

Over 3.8 million babies are born in the United States each year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. More than 98% of these births occur in a healthcare facility, the oft-swamped workplaces of America’s trusted healthcare professionals. Staffers work diligently to ensure the safety of their smallest patients, but 49% of staffers are reportedly working in “crisis mode”—doing too much, too quickly. It is easy to see how one patient could slip through the cracks.

Since 1965, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children records that 140 children have been abducted from healthcare facilities in the United States. Though infrequent compared to other forms of kidnapping, the fact that this threat exists at all is not just worrisome—it is unacceptable.

The NCMEC notes infant abductors are most often women in their childbearing years, and they commonly impersonate healthcare professionals. The organization notes a caveat, though: “There is no guarantee an infant abductor will fit this description.” Facing poor identification methods and inadequate safety systems, hospitals have begun to take notice.

Prior to the turn of the century, every newborn was fitted with a paper anklet whose ID code was matched to its mother’s ID bracelet. The only ways to know if a newborn was with the proper caregiver were either for the hospital staff to make a visual judgment based on experience, or to physically compare the two ID numbers. The possibility for error presented risks both in terms of kidnapping and the possibility of pairing a child with the wrong mother, potentially sending a newborn to the incorrect home.

By the beginnings of Y2K, one of Adesto’s customers had developed a revolutionary solution: infant tracking tags. These wearable electronic tags could monitor a baby’s whereabouts and discern if they were with unauthorized caregivers or leaving a defined zone of safety. The tamper-resistant tags would detect dangerous scenarios, and could be programmed to warn hospital personnel, hold elevator doors, or lock exits in an emergency. It could also work in conjunction with other access control systems such as pagers and cameras.

Nearly twenty years later, these tags support security in over 1,600 hospitals worldwide. Each system is underpinned by Adesto’s control networking technology: an open, extensible architecture allowing control devices from multiple manufacturers to interact with one another. If the system detects a baby’s unauthorized movement toward an exit, it uses LonWorks-based readers, controllers, and software alongside wireless tags to set off alarms and lock relevant doors.

Readers are embedded in hospital ceilings and sensors are positioned at each exit, working with software to track the baby’s whereabouts in real-time. I/O modules monitor closed-circuit TV, buzzers, and lamps. Each tag is fitted with a “Help” button to call staff in an emergency.

Adesto’s technology is event-driven, enabling a more reliable and scalable network. Installing and servicing is uncomplicated with a fault tolerant and installation friendly network, as the entire system is built using a Free Topology (FT) structure. It is highly noise immune ensuring electromagnetic interference in the ceiling will not adversely affect system performance.

For OEMs, reliability is crucial—they want to ensure their product works every time, especially in such high-stakes industries as security. Adesto’s technology is a must: it is robust, providing a highly dependable security system for the end user.

Video: Adesto’s FT Technology

Since its implementation in thousands of hospitals worldwide, our technology has supported the safety of 2 million infants annually. Hospitals lower their costs for installation and servicing, and mothers can rest knowing their baby is safe—thanks in part to Adesto’s technologies.