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New app deciphers your baby's cry

Using A.I. to understand a baby's cry
Posted at 1:45 PM, May 28, 2018

There is nothing like the sound of a baby's cry and for a new mom like Whitney Eberhardt, it can be daunting.

“When you first come home from the hospital you have no idea what you are doing and when they are crying you sometimes have no idea why. So, it’s nice to have something to help you out,” said Eberhardt.

On average, doctors say a newborn can cry a total of 2 hours a day, and that’s why Dr. Ariana Anderson of UCLA created the app, Chatter Baby.

“I thought it would be good to make a device that would help new parents and possibly deaf parents. So, when they were around their baby crying and said, why is my baby crying they would have some sort of answer,” said Dr. Anderson.

Chatter Baby is in its infancy stage and currently only gives three reasons for your baby crying. The three reasons are when a baby's in pain, fussy or hungry.

Eberhardt tried out the app and said it is easy to use. You press record for five seconds as your baby is crying and the app will then compare the cry to the sounds in a database to determine a reason. The Chatter Baby database of cries was created with the help of new parents.

“We think the best judges of the baby are parents themselves. We had the parent initially label the cry. So a mother would say, my baby is hungry, so if two other mothers agreed with that description of the babies cry then we would include that cry in our data base,” said Dr. Anderson.

Certain cries have a different acoustic sound. For example, babies who are in pain might have a cry with high energy or a fussy cry may have more periods of silence.

“Once we had an agreement amongst the mothers we trained artificial intelligence algorithms to look for patterns in the cry that were specific to hunger to pain to fussiness,” said Dr. Anderson.

With the help of artificial intelligence, Chatter Baby’s algorithm claims 90% accuracy whether your baby is crying or not and correctly flags more than 90% of pain cries.

However, as you get more comfortable knowing why your baby is crying, you can tweak the app yourself to make it more accurate.

“We want to have a way for parents to revise, update and improve the algorithym.so the algorithm gets returned to their specific baby,” said Dr. Anderson.

Eberhardt said the app is a great safety net for all new parents.