Babies don’t come with a manual, but a new app is helping to take some of the guesswork out of their cries. Known as ChatterBaby, the free app (available in iOS or Android) was initially created to help deaf parents figure out what their child needs, since they are not able to hear the nuanced differences in the sound of cries.
But even people with full hearing have trouble differentiating between whether Junior’s hungry, fussy or in pain, so the app has morphed into more of a universal tool than the inventor originally imagined!
The app initially launched with a database of about 2,000 cries gleaned from volunteers and internet sources who provided recordings of their babies crying, along with explanations for the cause. The team used machine learning to develop an algorithm that identified the characteristics of each type of cry, like changes in pitch, frequency, pauses and other characteristics. Using this information, the algorithms correctly identified features that predict pain, fussiness or hunger more than 90 percent of the time. For instance, if a cry is constant and at high volume it’s likely to mean the baby is in pain.
The app, which launched in May 2018, is being used around the world, in countries like Japan, China, Russia and Iraq. “It’s wonderful because one of our goals for this project was to reach out to countries where they might not have as many services as us.”