After becoming a parent, Eric White channeled his background in tech to create the Miku Baby Monitor, an award-winning smart baby monitor. We chatted with Eric about the inspiration behind Miku, the surprising history of baby monitors, and what makes Miku unique.
Congrats on the launch of Miku. What inspired you to create this product?
Thank you! The idea for Miku was born out of trying to solve a personal pain point. When my daughter was born four and a half years ago, we registered for the best baby monitor on the market at the time. I remember the first night we used it, sitting on the couch with my wife. We experienced blurry, pixelated video, crackling audio, and we had no idea if our baby was okay. It looked like we were just staring at a motionless blob on the screen. We kept taking turns going in the room to check on her and make sure she was okay and breathing. I knew there had to be a better solution. With my background in engineering and sensor development, I went to work building the first prototype. Fast forward to today, it’s incredibly rewarding to use the final Miku product now with my son!
What’s the most surprising thing you learned while researching baby monitors?
The most surprising thing is that baby monitors haven’t evolved much since the first one was created in 1937, designed by Isamu Noguchi. The 1932 kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby inspired the development of the first monitor, and over the course of the last 82 years, innovation has been slow. In 2014, when my daughter was born, the best video monitor on the market was VGA quality video and unsecured, walkie-talkie style communication. These monitors still make up the majority of the market in 2019. This category was due for major disruption and innovation.
What’s Miku’s most unique feature?
Hands down, it’s our contactless vital monitoring technology. Being able to accurately monitor breathing without wires or wearables is unique to Miku. It’s not only a game-changer for our baby monitor, but the technology has wide applications in healthcare and monitoring for people of all ages.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
Paperwork. I thrive when I get to think, build, and create. The mundane details of contracts, legalese, finance agreements, etc. takes the wind out of my sails. Luckily I have a great team around me to help with that.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
Relax? Unwind? What’s that??? It’s been a minute, but I like to be by the water whether it’s on a boat, at the beach or just hanging out by the pool.
What is your best parenting hack?
The art of distraction. It has diminishing effectiveness as kids get older, but it works, especially at the toddler age. When they are having a meltdown because they are not getting something they want, introduce something else to get their mind off it. If they are crying because they want a second cookie, let them play with your watch. If you want your watch back, give them a cookie. Wait— did I just get outsmarted by a toddler?!?
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
My daughter wanted a fish for a pet. So we went to the store and got her set up with a fish and a tank. The next day she asked me why the fish was so tired and sleeping so much. Uh oh. I told her the fish had been swimming down the pipes at night to play with her fish friends. When the fish was gone the next day, I told her it was still playing with her fish friends and I wasn’t sure when she would be back, but we could go to the store and get another fish. To date we are on about fish #7.
If you could describe fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
What’s one moment in your parenting journey that has made you proud?
There are many! Most recently, it’s been my daughter teaching me new things that she learns in preschool. She’ll sit me down and say things like “Daddy, let’s count to ten in French.” I will say (embarrassingly), “But I don’t know French!” And she will say, “Come on, you can do it. I will teach you.” She will follow up the next day to make sure I remembered what she taught me!
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
It might sound cliché, but I want my children to know they should explore, find their passion(s), and pursue what makes them happy. I had to come to that realization on my own, and I wish someone had emphasized it to me earlier in life.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other parents?
Let your kids be who they are! My kids are still young at ages four and one, but their personalities shine strong already and you can already tell they are completely different people. That’s what makes us great and unique.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
This is something I struggle with every day and I want to get better at it. Running a tech startup is a lot of work. Even when you’re not physically at the office, traveling, or on a call, your mind is always working and it never truly shuts off. I try to carve out as much time as I can on the weekends and plan a few family getaways each year where I can turn off as much as possible. The kids grow up so fast, and I don’t want to miss that, but I also want to show them that you can truly accomplish anything you want in the world if you work towards it.
What was the last book you read?
The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin.
I am a foodie. I love trying new foods and new restaurants especially when I am traveling. It’s too hard to pick one thing!
Favorite Form of Exercise:
Kid kettle bell swings. It’s just like regular kettle bell swings, but you do it with the kids. They have a great laugh and it’s a great total body workout.
What is on your DVR?
Mostly Disney shows and movies such as Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, all the Toy Story movies, etc. My kids have taken over all the space on the DVR!
Aside from the Miku app, I listen to books on Audible every day on my commute. Learning is everything.
Favorite Kids Store:
The Lego store hands down. I pretend it’s for the kids, but when I see one, we must go inside and build something!