Awwww turning to Owwwww! High-flying Owlet has lost some altitude due to the consequences of a 5 October FDA warning letter. The outcome, at least for now, is that Owlet cannot sell its Smart Sock in the US. The Smart Sock measures sleep patterns, blood oxygen saturation, and pulse rate through pulse oximetry. FDA is now considering it a medical device that falls under 510(k) marketing clearance requirements, including premarket approval (PMA). Effective 22 November, the Owlet app will no longer be downloadable, although current owners who have downloaded the app for the Smart Sock and the Cam will not be affected. There are Owlets in the reseller pipeline, such as Amazon, which have now been rendered non-working. The Owlet Smart Sock can be sold outside the US, but not from the website.
What is surprising from the FDA letter is that they have had this issue with Owlet for five years. From the letter: “Since 2016, the FDA has corresponded with Owlet that the Owlet Smart Sock meets the definition of a device under the FD&C Act and does not fall under the compliance policy for low-risk products that promote a healthy lifestyle (General Wellness guidance).” The latter is a catch-all that has enabled various tech products to go to market with statements such as “not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, alleviate or prevent any disease or health condition”. It may have been either an escalation of monitoring capabilities, of marketing, or of the FDA deciding after the SPAC that Owlet needed to be treated differently. Owlet came to market in 2013.
Owlet’s letter to customers alludes to the FDA warning letter and that no safety issues were raised. They promise here and on the website that they will “transition to a new app and consumer wellness product that addresses FDA’s concerns”. The website continues to sell the Owlet Cam and Dream Lab, with ‘Coming Soon’ in January for the new Dream Sock and Dream Duo, but with no details. What’s not known are any details on their capabilities, whether they will fall under ‘general wellness’, and whether Owlet has begun the laborious and long process of filing as (likely) a Class II device.
Owlet enjoyed a SPAC during the summer [TTA 23 July] that nabbed it $135 million and a valuation of over $1 billion. It traded then at $8. Today’s close was $3.95. Its market cap is now less than half. It’s disappointing to this Editor that Owlet didn’t file with FDA well before the SPAC. They now have the opportunity to get FDA clearance, but the more likely outcome is that, at least for now, they will market a less capable device that falls under ‘general wellness’. Deseret News, FierceBiotech, CNET, The Verge