In 2017, the Willow smart breast pump debuted to accolades and excitement at the Consumer Electronics Show. There wasn’t a lot of tech on display made specifically for women, and breast pumps hadn’t evolved much in earlier decades. Now, for CES 2020, the company is introducing the Willow Generation 3.
The Willow is discreet and quiet, letting women pump more easily in public, instead of in scary pump rooms. The second generation offered some improvements, like a quicker assembly and clear window for viewing milk flow. “We’ve reengineered Willow from the inside out to create the smartest and most productive pumping experience for moms,” Vickie Mrva, president and chief marketing officer of Willow, said of Gen 3.
The new device uses redesigned suction technology to more closely mimic how babies nurse. “Moms will transition to expression even faster than they do today, which really maximizes a woman’s letdown and her milk output,” said Mrva. Based on 5,000 sessions with the third generation, the Willow has increased milk output an average of 20 percent over earlier iterations, she said. The sessions themselves won’t be any faster, but there’s a new sensitivity setting and three different suction levels that will allow Willow wearers to adjust for comfort. The Generation 3 will also pair more easily to phones; Mrva compares it to connecting Airpods.
The Willow app has always let users track their milk output, but the new update will also give personalized tips. “So, for a particular mom, the app can recognize and feed her information to give her a tip on, for example, if she’s got a bra on snug enough to hold the pump in to maximize her milk output,” said Mrva.
This data would be based on both output and changes in breast size or shape recognized by the devices. While Mrva says the tips are based on this personal information, the data is anonymized. “We do not use personally identifiable information or sell data in any instances,” she said.
One thing that hasn’t changed with the Willow is its $499 price tag. Some of that cost could be covered by insurance, in certain cases, but it’s definitely pricey if not. The Willow also uses expensive proprietary bags but recently introduced a $50 reusable container. The company is planning on giving out 50 of its smart breast pumps for free at CES, but here’s hoping the comfort and convenience will be more affordable by the time Generation 4 debuts.
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