Thousands of pregnant women are now able to alert fellow travellers they need a seat on public transport using the world’s first ‘smart’ baby on board badge. ‘ Babee on Board ’, which has been developed by 10x, a London-based innovation firm, is a physical badge that pregnant women wear. Once the badge’s button is pressed, it sends a notification to smartphones within a 15 foot radius which means commuters that opt-in are notified when a pregnant woman needs a seat, even if they’re busy looking at their phones. As it uses bluetooth technology, it works underground without the need for a signal or wifi.
After 12 months of development and user testing, 10x has managed to replace the hardware badge with an app, with no loss in functionality. This change significantly reduces the cost and enables pregnant women to download the app and discreetly ask for a seat. The technology is now in a London pilot, before being rolled out worldwide.
In addition to helping pregnant women get a seat, it also helps eliminates the awkwardness of commuting by answering the age old question: “Should I give up my seat?”
Two apps, available today
Babee on Board requires two apps to work. ‘Request Seat’ is for pregnant women who want to request a seat and ‘Offer Seat’ is for commuters who want to offer their seat.
1) Babee on Board: Request Seat app
Press the button in the Request Seat app and it sends a notification to our companion app, Babee on Board: Offer Seat, which says: “Heads up! There’s a pregnant person nearby who might need a seat”. Pregnant women then have the option to wear the original Transport for London ‘Baby on Board’ badge as well.
Price: £3.99. (100% of profits from the app will be donated to Project Healthy Children, which is widely regarded as one of the world’s most effective charities)
2) Babee on Board: Offer Seat app
This free app enables people to get notifications on their smartphones when a pregnant person presses the button in our Request Seat app (see above). Once downloaded, the app never needs to be opened, and takes up just 7mb of space, plus it’s extremely energy efficient, using less than 1% of battery life.
Both apps are available on iOS now, with Android versions due to be released in early 2017.
Solving a real problem with technology
Hew Leith, CEO of 10x, said: “A year ago an 80 year-old woman, who was sat next to me on a busy Tube, got up and offered her seat to a heavily pregnant woman. I was mortified. I was too engrossed on my smartphone to notice anything. So as soon as I let the older woman have my seat, I began racking my brains for a solution. By the time the Tube train pulled into the platform at Moorgate, I had the idea to use beacon bluetooth notifications so pregnant people could let commuters know they’d like a seat.
“Babee on Board is a simple way to help pregnant women get a seat on public transport and remove any awkwardness for commuters.”
Early stage pregnancy is when a seat is most needed
Sally Davies, a London commuter six months into her pregnancy, commented: “It’s much easier to get a seat when you have a big, obvious bump, but it’s actually in the early stages of pregnancy that a seat is needed the most. It’s when you are feeling most nauseous and everything aches but you feel self conscious asking for a seat because you don’t have a visible bump. Being able to send a discreet notification to people that are happy to give up their seat would change everything.”
Partnerships to boost adoption
10x is speaking to a number of brands about integrating the technology into their apps and operating systems. This would enable millions of devices to listen out for Babee on Board notifications. Apps like Google Maps, Apple Maps and Citymapper and Uber could easily include a Babee on Board option in their settings so more pregnant women could get a seat on public transport.