For parents with high-tech color vision

As a parent, are you ever faced with a situation where your child could be running a dangerously high temperature, but you could only be bothered to check on it in a half-assed manner via line of sight? Well then Babyglow (and it’s INCREDIBLY creepy website) is just the thing you’ve never dreamed of!

How does baby glow work? Well supposedly, the suit turns to white (or at least a lighter shade of pink) when a baby’s temperature exceeds 98.6 degrees F. Nevermind the fact that children, as well as adults, can vary in normal temperature. Let’s assume that it does what it says it does all of the time and why that is still totally flawesome.

It’s easy to imagine that selling products to parents can be a lucrative —and sometimes easy— gig. Parents (especially new parents) are under a lot of emotional stress, and are saddled with incredible uncertainty. Paranoia abounds! And (at least with any good parents) a product that might marginally improve the livelihood of their newborn will garner a look. The whole premise is totally flawed.

Checkershadow Illusion

If you’ve never seen the above illusion, squares A and B are the same shade of gray. What does that illustrate? That color shades are extremely subjective. Too subjective, perhaps, to assign to the safety of your child. Here’s the same idea taken to a different extreme:

If you saw this travesty in your next car, you might be inclined to believe the people (possibly at Tesla) had gone off their rockers. “I can’t tell how fast I’m going with colors!” you’d exclaim. The highway signs don’t read “Speed Limit: Midnight Blue“, at which point the obvious conclusion becomes that color tones and shades are not a particularly great way to differentiate things that have more than two states (as in on/off or go/stop). Babyglow has pretty much the same problem; unless the outfit is going to turn from dark purple to bright green when going from ‘acceptable’ temperatures to ‘dangerous’, telling the difference between pink and danger-level-pink is going to be a bit of an adventure, and not the fun kind. This endeavor would be better served if modeled off pregnancy tests; a plus sign means the baby is HOT HOT HOT.

Fortunately for budding child enthusiasts (I’m talking about parents here), there’s a host of other tools to help you find out if your child is too hot.

Thermometer – These things have been around for centuries, and are pretty much entirely safe at this point. They can give you an exact temperature, and then you can call your doctor, or find out online (even in fits of paranoia), whether or not your baby is hot or HOT.

Your fingers – Incidentally, since color changing heat-sensitive baby clothes and thermometers haven’t exactly been around for the hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution and civilization, we humbly have a rather good intuition as to whether or not another smaller human being is too hot or not. It’s also why people can tell when others have a fever, without resorting to thermochromic hand towels.

The baby – When something is wrong with a child, it’s not always obvious, but by and large, there are indications. Children are a virtual megaphone of every ill brought down upon them; besides, if the parent had the time to check the color of clothes their children wear every few minutes (for several weeks of sleepless nights), they could probably be bothered to touch, hold, and observe them too. All excellent ways to tell if there’s something amiss with the infant.

It’s just hard to see the real utility of this fear-driven product. There’s plenty of better, but more importantly, more reliable ways to find out if your child is over-heated without resorting to the overly subjective nature of color perception. This product serves little purpose, but will likely find a home in many households just because parents are willing to do ANYTHING to keep their child safe. Which is unfortunate, if only because better solutions have existed, and will continue to exist for decades to come; solutions that are not totally flawesome.

VIA Incredible Things