Unifa Inc., an IT venture firm in Nagoya, has begun offering a monitoring service that can alert nursery school teachers to the warning signs of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the leading cause of death among babies at day care facilities.

The high-tech solution for a task that is usually handled by teachers is attracting attention as a way to sharply reduce the burden on day care staff and ensure the safety of children. SIDS often happens when infants are asleep with their face down. The company's Look-mee service monitors infants using a sensor in their clothing that relays data to a tablet app. The firm claims the service, and its use of removable sensors, is unprecedented worldwide. The round sensors, with a diameter of roughly 4 centimeters, have formal approval as medical equipment. It monitors an infant's breathing and checks the body position every second, a frequency impossible for humans to keep up with. If respiratory arrest or prone sleeping is detected, an alarm goes off on the tablet.

In many nursery schools, teachers check the conditions of infants every five minutes while they nap and keep handwritten records in notebooks. That makes the teachers extra busy, as they also have to watch children who are awake. The service, which includes extra checks by teachers in addition to the technological solution, can help reduce risks for infants because the alarm allows teachers to respond quickly and correct sleeping positions if needed.