Today, baby monitors are familiar devices in almost every young family. You can find baby monitors on just about new parents' must-have lists. This is for a good reason: They allow parents to hear when babies wake up, and more modern devices include cameras to monitor babies' movements when their parents aren't in the room. Today's baby monitors are so advanced that they can provide video input, detect nursery temperature, provide clear night vision, support two-way talkback communication, and even monitor breathing. So when, where, how, and why were baby monitors invented?
When were baby monitors invented?
The first baby monitor was the Zenith Radio Nurse in 1937. This Zenith Radio Nurse was developed by Eugene F. McDonald and designed by Japanese-American sculptor and product designer Isamu Noguchi. Manufactured by the Zenith Radio Corporation, it went on sale in 1938. It was a revolutionary product that made parenting less stressful for those who could afford it; this baby audio monitor was expensive for its time.
Why was the first baby monitor invented？
Unfortunately, the events that led to the need and subsequent invention of the first baby monitor were heartbreaking. On a Tuesday night in March 1932, the 20-month-old son of famed American aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped from his home. His mother and babysitter were both at home that day, so the kidnapping was unbelievable, but it was true. Heartbreakingly, a month later, the remains of Charles Jr. were found just a few kilometers from Lindbergh's house. This story inspired Eugene McDonald, the president of a company called Zenith, to design the first baby monitor. The premise of building this baby monitor is simple: to prevent a similar tragedy from happening to his children. Mr. MacDonald placed the device in his daughter's room to monitor the noise coming from the room.
The invention of the first baby monitor – Zenith Radio Nurse in 1937
Zenith Radio Nurse consists of Radio Nurse Receiver and Guardian Ear Transmitter. Noguchi designed the Radio Nurse Receiver, made of dark bakelite with a streamlined modernist form. The Guardian Ear Transmitter was made of enameled metal, a more functional design. Unlike the receiver, the transmitter was housed in an ordinary metal casing. The "ear" was a shoddy condenser microphone seen at the front of the chassis. This was suspended by springs to avoid noise pickup. Holes above the grill allowed screws to be inserted to secure the microphone during transport. The output of the microphone was amplified and used to modulate an oscillator operating at 300 kHz, and this signal was coupled to the AC power line. The receiver picked up this signal from the power line, demodulated and amplified it, and fed it to the speakers. Zenith monitors at deafening volume caused distortion and speakers rattle. And the Zenith Radio Nurse ran into technical problems because it shared radio frequencies with another new consumer tech, including car radios and garage door openers.
Evolution of baby monitors
The invention of the secure communication protocol Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) in 1941 propelled baby monitors into another era. It was used in baby monitors in the 1990s to improve communication security. FHSS technology guarantees 100% privacy of all communications. It is now used by some of the highest-rated baby monitors such as Infant Optics, Babysense Video Baby Monitor, HelloBaby Baby Monitor, and Eufy Spaceview.
In the early 1970s, the audio baby monitor evolved from a one-way talk to a two-way talkback and a call button-equipped device for monitoring young children and patients. In the late 1970s, baby monitors were equipped with breathing monitoring and alarm functions. When the baby was breathing normally, the receiver made a constant noise, but it alarmed when breathing stopped. Baby monitors became popular as prices continued to drop in the 2000s and with the advent of WiFi baby monitors. Before the 2000s, most baby monitors did not use WiFi to transmit signals. Analog baby monitors use analog signals, while digital baby monitors are starting to use 2.4 GHz WiFi, DECT, or FHSS technology to transmit audio and video signals.
Best Baby Monitors
- VTECH SMART WI-FI 1080P HD VIDEO MONITOR: The Vtech RM7754HD Video Monitor includes a 7" Colour Parent Unit with an HD video baby camera. Watch your child in real-time on the parent unit or the MyVTech Baby app; either way, you can rest while assuring that you can monitor your baby from anywhere!
- CUBO AI PLUS SMART BABY MONITOR: The best AI baby monitor to safeguard your baby's safety from 0-5 years+. AI detection for covered face, danger zone, cry detection, auto photo capture, and lots more.
- HELLOBABY VIDEO BABY MONITOR: Home care for the most precious. Our range of baby monitors brings you over 270-degree pan-tilt and zoom camera and two-way talk to provide crystal clear audio, all without breaking a piece out of your budget! The user-friendly controls make it easy for you to navigate through the features like night vision and nursery temperature monitoring.
- INFANT OPTICS DXR-8 VIDEO BABY MONITOR: The Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Monitor is the first baby monitor with interchangeable lens technology. Three different lens types, normal, wide angle (sold separately), and zoom, allow you to choose the most suitable focal length and viewing angle for the specific environment, just like a professional camera system.
- OWLET BABY MONITOR: The Owlet Monitor Duo combines the award-winning Smart Sock with the Cam for the complete picture of your baby's well-being. Track your child's heart rate, oxygen level, and sleep trends while streaming live HD video to your phone. View your child's readings in real-time, from anywhere, in our free App, and receive notifications if lessons leave preset zones and sound and motion notifications to stay informed of your child's needs.