Many expectant mothers listen to or play music during pregnancy in hopes that the melodies will benefit their unborn babies’ development. But what if the fetus was able to create the music?

That’s the idea behind Womba, an electronic device co-invented by a Calgary mother and musician.   

Aura Pon, who graduated from the University of Calgary with a PhD in music technology this month, developed the Womba with fellow music researcher Johnty Wang. They believe it is the “world’s first prenatal musical instrument.”

The device was inspired by the “Mozart effect,” which theorizes that playing music for an unborn baby in the womb will enrich the child’s development. The Womba is a lightweight instrument that can be strapped across a pregnant woman’s stomach and is triggered to create music in response to the kicks and movements of the in-utero baby.

The light patterns on the device show the mother the location and strength of the baby’s movements.

Pon first came up with the idea while she was pregnant with her first child in 2013, after noticing how strong her son’s kick was.

“I thought it would be kind of fun to have him make sound,” “Pon said. “I'm always interested in different ways you can interact with sound and music.”

What began as a hobby project turned into a series of prototypes, developed and refined over the course of Pon’s two pregnancies and the pregnancy of her fellow inventor’s wife.

Mothers can choose different sounds for their unborn baby, while speakers built into the Womba allow both the parent and the child to hear the sound as it’s made.

Pon says the music is not the only benefit the Womba offers to an expectant mother.

“It's also about bonding,” she said. “Those that can't feel the kicks all the time, you know, they can now see it and hear it and start to be like, 'That's a person in there.'”

Pon hopes that the Womba can be adapted and used as an instrument even after the child is born, letting them continue to enjoy making music as they grow.

The inventors have applied for a U.S. patent on the device, and say that there’s interest from a company in developing the product.

With a report from CTV’s Janet Dirks