New app interprets baby's cries

Mom of 3 got idea after noting similarities in her kids' cries

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (WPVI) -- New parents no longer have to scratch their heads, wondering why their baby is crying.

A team at UCLA Health has developed an app to help.

Ariana Anderson, Ph.D., of UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience, a mother of 3, got the idea after noticing similarities in her babies' cries.

Dr. Anderson used machine language and a database of 2 thousand cries to develop ChatterBaby.

"As a statistician, I see the world in terms of numbers and patterns, and so the first thiought was whether or not I could train a computer algorithm to do what my ears as a parent as a parent could automatically do," she notes.

It analyzes what each cry means - fussy, angry, or in pain.

"It looks at the types of frequencies that are in the cry, and it looks at the different patterns of sound and silence," says Anderson.

"Between fussy and hungry, it's a little hard to tell, but pain we could identify with 90 percent accuracy," she added.

ChatterBabywas originally developed to help hearing-impaired parents know WHEN their baby was crying, and WHY.

"We can only tell if there is something loud happening in the room. And we have a child that is very talkative. He would babble. So we can't distinguish between loud noises and crying," says Delbert Whetter, a hearing-impaired father of two.

Sanaz Whetter says it could help her connect to her children much better.

"It would help a lot, I'm really excited about the app. It would help the children be safe," Sanaz says.

But designers say the app can also help first-time parents and moms with postpartum depression, who may have a hard time reading their infant's cues.

ChatterBaby is free of charge, and available for download for Apple and Android phones.