In their skeptical post about this bullshit announcement of Babyglow, a new "invention" of thermochromatic pajamas that change color when a baby's body temperature goes above normal, Engadget says that "The most gullible shopper on the planet has to be the first time parent. Well meaning consumers who at their core are scared senseless. " And they're half right.
But new parents' real problem isn't their gullibility, it's the media's. Specifically, it's the lazy-ass reporters and editors who parrot whatever baby product claim or assertion or crisis comes down the pike, and who don't provide even the barest context or fact-checking. Instead, they republish an endless stream of press releases under the guise of "what'll they think of next?" infotainment, which then echoes around the mediascape until it picks up the weight of "news," if not actually "accepted fact." And so what new parents are really guilty of, ironically, is being foolish enough to believe that there's a reason to believe or care what newspapers and television stations are reporting.
And what they're talking about at the moment is a pile of unsubstantiated nonsense thrown at them by a hustling hypnotist/bartender in a bed & breakfast in BF England and a Bangladeshi garmento. If you haven't guessed by now, I am not off my head with joy at the announcement of Babyglow high temperature indicating baby suits.
I will be explaining why as soon as I get back from camp pickup. OK, I'm back.
The subtitle at the ever-credible Telegraph nicely encapsulates the press-baiting Babyglow non-story as it was designed: "A pub landlord has signed a £12.5 million contract after inventing a baby grow that changes colour to indicate a child's temperature."
[Christopher Ebejer, the "pub landlord" and "father-of-one" in question] has signed a £12.5million contract to produce 900,000 Babyglows a month worldwide, which are set to be launched in October for around £20 each.Brilliant! It sure sounds like Ebejer is living the Everydad fantasy of cashing in on the huge invention that literally came to him while, er, whilst lying on the sofa watching TV: "Mr Ebejer thought up the idea in the early hours of the morning whilst waking on the sofa to a documentary about baby body temperature."
The worldwide patented design has been signed up by manufacturers Quality Workwear 4 U and they are also in the process of developing additional product lines like blankets.
Except the weird description, "has been signed up by manufacturers," makes the £12.5 million figure essentially meaningless. Did QW4U, a company which barely exists online buy the patents for $20 million? Unbloodylikely. Did Ebejer contract to pay that amount for the production of several million Babyglows at the Bangladeshi or Chinese t-shirt factories QW4U claims to operate [Quality Workwear and its CEO, Ian Todd-Weller, also claim to be "Steel Processors and have been producing for many years in India."]
Is it really possible that none of QW4U's or Todd-Weller's vast accomplishments--however invisible they are to Google--compare to the Babyglow? "In my 35 years in the industry I have never seen a product like it. It's such a great idea and a real help for young mothers. It's not just a baby grow, it's a safety garment. This product has massive potential. [So please buy some, because I make money off of every one.]"
That is, if you can find them. There was no information about who or where these millions of Babyglows be distributed and sold at their anticipated £20 retail price? From Ebejer's local paper, the Suffolk Times:
The manufacturers are currently overseeing the production of 900,000 Babyglows a month in factories in Pakistan, China and America. Around 200,000 have already been pre-ordered by buyers in the USA. Production is set to reach 1.6 million a month by February next year.200,000! And made in the USA! And yet this is the first anyone's hearing about it. And they're talking about it now, but they're not launching at the biggest kid product trade shows, the ABC Kids Expo in September or the Kind+Jugend Expo right after, but in London in October:
Its official launch will be held on October 13 at the Baby Products Association (BPA) Baby and Child Show in London's ExCel centre. It has been nominated for best innovation product of year at the BPA awards.Without dwelling [much] on the irony of a baby product association named BPA, I will just point you to the BPA Faire's website, where you, too, still have time--until July 1st, hurry!--to "nominate" your invention for the BPA Concept Award for best innovation product. I'm sure the small nomination fee will pale in comparison to the massiveness of your production contract, too, so do let the world know.
Ebejer reportedly spent four or six years and over 700,000 pounds on exhaustive research and development of this incredible, color-changing fabric. And yet, there's not a single patent registered to him, Babyglow, QW4U, or Todd-Weller in the EU, the UK, or the US.
And really, why should there be? The concept of heat-sensitive fabric is at least 20 years old. Generra introduced Hypercolor thermochromic clothing in 1991. The main production technique involves something called Leuco dye, whose performance characteristics sound exactly like Ebejer's claimed invention. [Did you know itleuco dye can sometimes contain actual bisphenol-A? Wouldn't that make for an awesome press release?]
[An application for a US patent on Thermochromic Temperature-Monitoring Clothing was filed last August by one John P. Matheson, a real estate broker/attorney and two-time candidate for Ward 3 of the Malden, Mass. city council. Matheson claims his patent, which is for outerwear designed to detect hypothermia, i.e., cold temperatures, is the first non-aesthetic use of thermochromic technology: "Prior art related to thermochromic color change in apparel solely concerned aesthetic considerations, and not for any perceived health benefits or for monitoring and detecting skin surface temperatures." The application makes no reference at all to heat stress, fever, or other hyperthermia-related conditions. It has also not been granted yet, and Matheson seems more focused on garbage bag pickup fees than international Onesie trafficking. As far as Babyglow goes, I think it's an unrelated dead end.]
Now about this "pub landlord" part. Ebejer and his wife own the Long Melford Inn, in Long Melford, Suffolk. It's a 3-room B&B with a bar, some tables on the green, and parking in back for the "Traditional Sunday Roast" crowd. Far from having his life "taken over," by his chemical engineering R&D, Ebejer seems to be the Inn's pointman for reservations and private party bookings. He plays on the dart team. And the snooker team. He pulls pints. And in 2007 he put on a magic show, under his hypnotist "stage name, Chris Lord," at the Long Melford Village Hall, to help raise money for the local scout's new hut.
Lord? Chris Lord? THE Chris Lord?? Or did they mean "Lord Christopher Ebejer of Westminster," whose ancestral seat is "The Lord Melford Inn, Redbridge Hill, Long Melford, Sudbury"? Because that's who registered the UK trademark for Babyglow in 2008.
Which is fine. I'm sure Ebejer will be knighted soon enough for his spectacular contributions to the pajama industry. In the mean time, though, he's a bullshit artist with who has managed to make the credibility of several hundred media outlets momentarily vanish before our eyes.
The kicker is, his heat-sensitive pajamas are basically pointless anyway. Actual infant hyperthermia is extremely rare; outside of the NICU, where babies are under constant monitoring--or the backseat of an SUV left in the parking lot, where a color-changing Onesie won't help save a forgotten kid. As for detecting fevers, I think you'd know if your kid was sick because he'll be whiny and restless. Then you'll check his temperature with an actual, accurate thermometer, not a sleepsuit with an uncalibrated binary setting that's too low anyway, plus it was invented by an insomniac bartending magician with a borrowed baby.
Babyglow temperature sensing clothing: because you're dumber than your newborn [engadget via dt reader rolf]
Invention could be glowing concern [east anglia daily times]
Long Melford landlord uses mystical powers for charity. [suffolk times via highbeam]
Trade Mark 2478689: Babyglow [ipo.gov.uk]