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Digital Womb

Digital Womb

To grow and develop, a premature infant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) requires sleep, skin-to-skin contact, and freedom from pain. Monitoring NICU baby health is imperative, but the current approach is invasive and requires waking, prodding, pricking, and/or affixing sensors to the infant.

The goal of the Digital Womb mission is to help infants grow and develop by creating sensors that continuously monitor in unobtrusive ways. With this data, new parameters and insights can be developed to help improve the care neonatologists give for such things as reducing pain, increasing sleep, and improving overall monitoring approaches.

Beyond premature infants, elements of these innovations could be used to monitor patients of all ages. The potential also extends beyond the walls of the hospital and patient care; these sensors could be integrated into clothing or wearables to track activity.

Nancy Stoffel, Sensor Development, Digital Womb team
Project Impact

The Digital Womb team is focused on capturing as many significant vital signs and key activity indicators as they can without making negative contact with a premature baby. This includes video analytics, novel environmental sensing, and an intelligent blanket that can gather information whenever in contact with the baby.

Digital Womb Team with GE incubator


Key demonstrations/milestones:

  • December 2019: First baby tests! The intelligent blanket is tested on three infants, validating its ability to be used in a hospital environment and to collect accurate vital signs. The blanket receives high praise from doctors, nurses, and parents for its ease of use.
  • August 2019: GE creates a fully integrated prototype, including audio monitoring, lighting control, wireless blanket with conductive fabric, and video analytics for activity and pain monitoring.
  • March 2019: Refined prototypes of the intelligent blanket and video analytics are tested on healthy adult volunteers.
  • June 2018 : In the first-ever Forge Hackathon, GE Research hosts customers from GE’s Maternal Infant Care group, and more than 50 researchers from across all technology domains to develop ideas and prototypes for what a novel incubator and contactless sensing could look like. This leads to the start of the Digital Womb mission and its initial areas of focus.
  • Our Expertise

    Capabilities utilized for Digital Womb project

  • Software Development

    Innovating software solutions in alignment with Agile & FastWorks principles to aid business digital transformation journeys

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  • Embedded Computing

    Integrating computation with physical processes to create the joint optimization of algorithms, software and hardware

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  • Microelectronics

    Developing solutions from advanced imaging applications to embedded electronic systems and sensing systems for industrial and aeronautical applications

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  • Microfabrication

    Constructing micrometer structures in a world-class cleanroom staffed with experienced unit step leaders, engineers and technicians

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  • Computer Vision

    Enhancing fundamental and applied research to mimic human visualization and interpretation

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