The Expert’s Review of Apps for Pregnant Women in 2016: The Infant Cries Translator

The Infant Cries Translator

“There’s an app for just about anything”. This review of The Infant Cries Translator app will contribute to the accuracy of the slogan. Keep reading and you will see why.

If sometimes you find it confusing to interpret people’s emotions correctly from their smiles or tears, just try figuring out what a crying baby is trying to say!

Is he hungry? Thirsty? In pain? Did he have a bad dream and wants to be held? When a baby is crying inconsolably and everyone is getting frantic trying to figure out how to calm him down, things can get pretty stressful!

That’s why researchers at the National Taiwan University Hospital Yunlin have come up with “The Infant Cries Translator”, an app (for iOS) that they claim can differentiate between a variety of crying sounds made by babies. They spent several years recording 200,000 baby cries from approximately 100 newborn babies from around the world, and then analyzing the acoustics of those cries. Analysis of the frequency of individual screams among these babies, classified by age group, helped the team, led by app developers Chang Chuan-yu and Dr Chen Si-da, to distinguish subtle differences in acoustics.

The app shows analysis of a baby’s cries on the user’s phone within 15 seconds. According to the app developers, the cries of newborn babies under the age of two weeks can be interpreted with up to 92 percent accuracy as meaning the baby is complaining of one of four things: hunger, tiredness, pain, or a wet/dirty diaper. As babies get older, the accuracy of the app goes down. By the time the babies are two months old, the app interprets the meaning of their cries 85 percent of the time. At four months, it’s down to 77 percent. The researchers don’t recommend using the app after six months. They say as babies grow, they start using other information they’ve learned and react more to their environment, so their cries differ more individually.

Of course, the accuracy of this app has not been tested in clinical trials nor with any other scientific method. In fact, I doubt that the app “knows” your baby’s needs better than you do.

My recommendation about The Infant Cries Translator App:
Who should use this app? At this stage, I do not recommend it for new or more experienced parents. However, I believe that with the development of newer and better technologies, software, and algorithms, this app can eventually be very helpful to parents, siblings, nursery staff, baby-sitters, and whoever else is in contact with a crying baby.

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Diego Wyszynski
Dr. Diego Wyszynski is the Founder and CEO of Pregistry. He is an expert on the effects of medications and vaccines in pregnancy and lactation and an accomplished writer, having published 3 books with Oxford University Press and more than 70 articles in medical journals. In 2017, he was selected a TEDMED Research Scholar. Diego attended the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

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