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Sense-U describes itself as a “high-tech startup in Silicon Valley, U.S”. As such, it’s a relative newcomer to the baby tech world. Its flagship product, the Sense-U Baby Monitor, comes in a bundle comprising a video monitor and breathing sensor. Both of these are paired with an app that can be viewed on your phone or tablet, whether it’s running iOS or Android.
The Sense-U Baby Monitor 2 promises to track “baby’s breathing, body temperature, and sleep position while streaming HD video.” It’s a similar price to many other sensor-based baby monitor systems, but uses a wearable sensor rather than a mattress pad, putting it in the same category as more premium offerings such as the Owlet, Nanit and Snuza Hero MD, all of which feature in the the MadeForMums list of the best baby monitors.
Susi is mum of two, and tested the Sense-U Baby Monitor 2 at home during naps and night sleeps with her 4 month old baby.
What were your first impressions of the Sense-U Baby Monitor 2?
On opening the box, it was clear that some thought had been put into the design of the various bits of kit. It looked impressive. The main elements of the bundle are the camera and its power cable, the sensor that clips onto the baby, and the base station for the sensor. It was also great to discover that a spare battery and clip for the sensor had been included.
How easy was the monitor to set up? Is it easy to connect it to your smartphone?
Because the video monitor is app-based, I had to start by downloading the Sense-U Baby app to my device. While that part was easy, creating an account was slightly more complicated. I was only give a short time to confirm my identity via a link that was emailed to me – nothing like putting a sleep-deprived parent under pressure! When it came to inputting my son’s details, I kept getting an error message saying that his date of birth was in the wrong format (which it wasn’t).
However, once I’d managed to negotiate the account opening it was simply a case of connecting the baby monitor to the same wifi network as my phone / tablet and letting the app find the video feed, which was straightforward.
The sensor can be clipped to a nappy or trousers/pyjama bottoms, which is simple enough. The base station then needs to be powered via the supplied USB cable, and paired via the app.
Can multiple people connect to the Sense-U Baby Monitor 2 app?
One of the features that could have been useful was the option to have more than one person log into the feed. So theoretically, my partner could use their phone to monitor and I could use mine.
Once my partner had created an account and I had invited them to view, we got an error message saying “The users you are inviting are located in different data centres. Devices sharing is not allowed due to data protection policies”. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it meant that this potentially useful function wasn’t accessible to us.
How easy is it to position everything correctly?
The camera came with stickers to fix it to the wall, but these came unstuck after a day, so we went back to ever-reliable Command strips for sticking.
The camera is on a wand which is then inserted into a fixed joint, making it possible to easily get the best angle for your crib. There’s no option to change the angle remotely, but thanks to the wide-angle HD video I could position it so I could see the whole crib, so this wasn’t an issue.
You do need to put it near a power socket or have an extension lead handy, though, as the USB cable is only 1 meter long and the camera needs constant power. You also need either a socket with a USB port or a USB plug adapter, as the bundle comes with just a USB cable. If you use the sensor, you also need a second power source and USB adaptor for the base station.
Is the camera on the Sense-U Baby Monitor 2 adjustable?
The camera can only be adjusted manually, but as I mentioned it’s easy to position it to see the whole crib.
What is the sound quality like on the monitor?
The sound quality depends in part on the speaker on your phone or tablet, but I found it was fine if you only need to hear whether there’s a baby crying. It’s not very clear if you’ve got an older child who speaks and you want to hear what they’re saying.
There’s also a slight delay, so you might hear your baby cry in real life before it comes through on the app. The amount of delay will probably depend on your internet connection speed.
How was the background noise?
When I plugged in the camera, I could detect a high pitched noise coming from it, but it seemed to be intermittent. I worried that it would bother my son (since the younger you are the more you can hear high frequency noises) but it didn’t appear to.
What is the picture like on the Sense-U Baby Monitor 2?
The picture is very clear during both daytime naps and nighttime sleep. I also didn’t think the glowing LEDs these cameras have to have in order to do night vision were as aggressive as the previous baby monitor I had.
Can you talk us through all the different functions of the monitor?
Provided you have the app downloaded, you have access to the following features:
- Video monitor – uses the bundled camera to send the video feed to your phone or tablet via the app
- Two-way sound – allows you to speak to your baby through a small speaker on the camera
- Video recording – through the app you can take video recordings of the feed which are then saved to your camera roll
- Motion detection – this will send you a notification every time your baby moves, and it’s pretty sensitive. It’s something I turned off quite quickly, but could be useful if you’re busy and want to make sure you notice if your baby is about to wake up.
How did you find the sensor on the Sense-U Baby Monitor 2?
The small sensor is attached to your baby’s clothing or nappy using the clip provided, so it’s resting on their tummy. You also need to plug in the base station to a mains outlet via the provided USB cable.
You will then get information about your baby’s breathing and temperature on the app. It also alerts you if it stops detecting breathing, either via an audio alarm from the base station or a notification on your phone. This element is useful if you’re concerned or anxious about your child’s safety while they sleep. It’s worth noting that I occasionally forgot to press the button on the app turning off the sensor when I picked my baby up, so halfway through a nappy change there was a siren going off in the other room, which added an element of stress to the whole proceedings!
What did you think of the app-based controls?
The fact that it’s app-based is both the best and the worst thing about this monitor.
Since we used it only at home, it was annoying that we regularly had to log back into the app, it sometimes failed to connect, and it used up the battery life of our phones if we tried to view the live feed for long periods of time. We ended up using an iPad which we tried to keep plugged in as much as possible.
However, because it’s an app, you can use it on any device, so theoretically, my partner and I could both have access to it. And while it works on Wifi, it also works on 4G, so I could sit out in the garden (where our Wifi network doesn’t stretch) and still be able to see what’s going on. Range can be a real issue with baby monitors so this is definitely something to bear in mind if you have a large house or a big garden you spend a lot of time in.
An upgrade was made to the app in Summer 2021 with the aim of further optimising connection and performance.
Does the app offer data analysis of baby’s sleep? Is this helpful?
If you attach the sensor to the baby’s clothing it offers data, including breathing rate, body temperature and whether they’ve rolled over. There’s no analysis of sleep patterns.
The data does provide reassurance if you’re worried about those things, and I believe should be more reliable than a mattress-based sensor, as they won’t be able to roll off the pressure zone.
Does it have a temperature indicator?
It doesn’t show the room temperature, only the baby’s body temperature when the sensor is worn. I would have liked a room temperature indicator – this is a feature most baby monitors now have.
How did you find the Wi-Fi connection and security?
Every time I opened the app it spent a few moments showing “building a secure channel” on the screen before connecting, which was reassuring.
What were you favourite features of this monitor?
I like that it can connect using your phone’s data as well as Wi-Fi. It was a game changer when I realised it would allow me to sit in the garden while still being able to watch over the baby! I’m sure it uses a fair amount of 4G data though, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a data-unlimited contract.
Because it works over your phones and tablets, and the app and the monitor don’t need to be on the same Wi-Fi network, it offers a lot of flexibility when travelling, or if you have pockets of bad Wi-Fi around your home.
Also, it might be reassuring if you leave your baby with a babysitter to be able to check in on how they’re getting on while you’re out.
Is it worth the money?
At £291.99 for the bundle, it’s priced similarly to many other baby monitors with sensors on the market, but unless you have a particular need to use your phone or tablet rather than a dedicated monitor screen, I don’t think it’s the best value one out there. Some elements of the app also felt like they were designed by a software developer rather than a parent and it was buggy in places.
Having said that, because it’s app-based it would be possible for the developers to improve a lot of the issues by releasing a new version of the app, and they have already shown that they are actively doing this. You can also often find great deals and offers on the product that make the price very competitive.
Where can you buy the Sense-U Baby Monitor 2?
A promising product that offers reassurance to anxious parents through the sensor, backed up with a great quality HD camera that offers most of the more traditional baby monitor functions. It’s perhaps best suited to those who are comfortable using technology, but offers plenty of flexibility with 4G support (great for travel) and the option to add multiple cameras.
There’s room for improvement with regards to the app design and functionality but the brand seems committed to doing this via app updates.
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|Model||Video + Breathing Monitor 2|
|Signal type||Mobile networks/wi-fi|
|Movement sensor pad||Yes|
|Sound level indicator lights||Yes|
|Room temperature display||No|
|Power supply||Charging base|
Motion detection and video playback
Controlled via app from anywhere
Light and sound notifications
Clip-on tracker to track baby's vitals
Secure Wifi with private mode
No hidden fees
Smart smoke sensor