La Trobe invention to put mums at ease

A baby monitor for the unborn created by La Trobe University students has been developed to reduce the alarming number of stillbirths in Australia each year.

Five babies are stillborn in Australia every day, according to the Stillbirth Foundation Australia. 

In an effort to reduce this tragic statistic, the team of seven students from a range of disciplines came together to create CountaKick, which is currently under development for market and will hopefully be available in 12 months. 

The wearable device – like a Fitbit for your belly - is designed for women in their third trimester of pregnancy. 

CountaKick will capture foetal movements and record that data in a simple mobile app, which can then be interpreted by medical professionals. 

Project co-ordinator Eddie Custovic said the device would help alleviate the stress many mothers felt, trying to keep track of their baby's movements.

"CountaKick will have a number of benefits," Eddie said.

"Expectant parents will be able to provide the data to their obstetricians for medical interpretation. From this, we will be able to collect movement trends on the baby. We will also have the opportunity to track how a mother's diet impacts baby movement. Further down the track there will be opportunities to compare the first six months of birth development against movement in the womb and conduct cutting edge research."

Despite medical advancements, little is known about the causes behind stillbirth. What is known is that the most common symptom of stillbirth is decreased foetal movement. Foetal movement trends can readily be determined by regular of counting the baby's kicks.

There is an inherent divide between the pressing need to record foetal movement, and the mother's ability to perform this task. 

CountaKick is a device embedded in a comfortable band that expectant mothers wear around their stomachs. The in-built sensors can track even the most miniscule movements. The wearer will be able to download the information to a mobile phone app, which will show trends in movement to be interpreted by a medical professional. 

"Through this development, we were able test our innovative skills, in designing a sophisticated and novel solution to a problem that will enhance the building of healthy and aware communities," said team captain, Matthew Felicetti.

"We are glad that La Trobe has given us the support needed to bring this project to life, and we are keen to get this out to the market."

The creators of CountaKick were awarded first runner-up in this year's Telstra University Challenge. Telstra initiated the challenge to boost engagement with universities and unearth hidden talent. As a result, six engineering students have landed graduate roles with Telstra over the past three years.  

The La Trobe University team included:                    

Eddie Custovic – Project Coordinator

Matthew Felicetti – Team Captain, Computer Systems Engineering

James Hegedus – Computer Sciences

Farid Imtiaz – Electronics Enigneering

Michael Jenkins – Electronics Engineering/ Computer Science

Brianna Martin – Law/Business

Ann Tran – Marketing

Tom Wright – Computer Science

For more information, watch the video of CountaKick.

Image: (From left to right) Ann Tran, Brianna Martin, James Hegedus, Farid Imtiaz, Michael Jenkins (kneeling), Tom Wright, Matthew Felicetti,  Kate McKenzie (Telstra Operations, Chief Operations Officer), Ericsson CTO, Andy Penn (CEO Telstra), Mike Wright (Group Managing Director Networks at Telstra) and Dr Eddie Custovic.

Media contact

Leah Humphrys

Media and Communications Officer

T   + 61 3 9479 5353

E   l.humphrys@latrobe.edu.au

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