North­eastern under­grad­uate Praful Mathur’s web-​​enabled baby mon­itor could be the next big high-​​tech parent gadget.

Mathur, a junior studying com­puter sci­ence and eco­nomics and cofounder of the tech startup Amp Idea, wants to add web-​​based inter­ac­tive soft­ware appli­ca­tions to the tra­di­tional walkie-​​talkie-​​like baby mon­itor. The tech­nology would allow par­ents to down­load soothing songs for chil­dren, flip through tips on baby care, track sleeping pat­terns, and take photos.

The inno­va­tions may well trans­form the suc­cessful niche into a multibillion-​​dollar industry, not to men­tion sat­isfy a market audi­ence hungry for the latest and greatest par­enting high-​​tech toy.

Mathur got his start last Jan­uary when North­eastern backed the young entre­pre­neur by granting him the freedom to work for him­self during an extended nine-​​month co-​​op.

The com­pany first had its sights set on mar­keting a taxi credit-​​card machine it had devel­oped. Then last spring Mathur and Amp Idea’s cofounders Sergey Grabkovsky, a fellow com­puter sci­ence major, and Sumant Yer­ramilly, a long­time friend who Mathur recon­nected with over a summer intern­ship in New York, were accepted into Tech­Stars, a seed-​​stage invest­ment fund orga­ni­za­tion that men­tors bud­ding entre­pre­neurs. The Tech­Star men­tors encour­aged the team to explore the juve­nile prod­ucts industry.

The more Amp Idea looked into the busi­ness, which sells more than 4 mil­lion devices a year, the more the ven­ture made sense. “At first we were reluc­tant to move on it because we’re not par­ents and we didn’t under­stand the space,” Mathur says. “But people at Tech­Stars kept bringing it up. We felt we had no choice but to examine the opportunity.”

Amp Idea decided to focus on cre­ating an entire line of what Mathur calls “sleek and exciting” baby prod­ucts, begin­ning with the baby mon­itor. Over the next sev­eral months, Tech­Stars helped Amp Idea con­nect with a host of key con­tacts, including the cofounders of Har­monix, the videogame-​​development com­pany that cre­ated Guitar Hero and Rock Band (it turns out that Guitar Hero and Amp Idea’s baby mon­itor depend on sim­ilar hard­ware); the founder of Par­ents in a Pinch, a babysit­ting and nanny agency; and a group of inde­pen­dent musi­cians inter­ested in selling their baby tunes over the Web.

Ear­lier this month, Mathur pitched his idea for the baby mon­itor to more than 200 ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists and angel investors at Microsoft’s New Eng­land Research and Devel­op­ment Center in Cam­bridge. He now has meet­ings with sev­eral poten­tial investors on the cal­endar for early-​​October. His goal: to score $300,000 in funding.

The com­pany is also exploring the pos­si­bility of part­nering with Fisher-​​Price, Hasbro, and Summer Infant, which would license Amp Idea’s baby-​​monitor hard­ware and pay the startup for its Web ser­vices. The goal, says Mathur, is to get a product on the shelves by December 2010 in order to get inde­pen­dent soft­ware devel­opers inter­ested in cre­ating addi­tional appli­ca­tions for the monitor.

Mathur is grateful for the chance to pursue the busi­ness plan with so much freedom. “North­eastern really put a lot of faith in me,” he says. “I wanted to explore this oppor­tu­nity and the uni­ver­sity really encour­aged me to do it.”