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Wearables, life savers and robots – the technology from CES 2015 aimed at kids and their families
February 2, 2015
The CES closed a few weeks ago, the world’s tech companies have taken their best products to the arena and now that the dust has settled I wanted to write a summary of what exciting innovation we can expect in the kids and families industry.
Wearables for kids, grown-ups and even pets were big news this year, as we keep getting better at connecting *everything* to the internet. The products are increasingly smarter and better-designed and those aimed at families tend to follow a trend that will never die: make a parent’s life easier, help out.
And so we have Temp Traq, a wearable, wireless, continuously monitoring thermometer that is worn like a patch on baby’s skin. The makers claim it won’t disturb the child, but will track their temperature and send updates to a parent’s phone. iSwimband, “the revolutionary drowning detection”, does precisely what it says on the tin: it fits into a headband or a wristband and sends out a warning signal if a young swimmer has been staying under the water line for too long. Sproutling is a sensing, learning baby monitor band that, in addition to monitoring heart rate, temperature, motion and position, predicts sleep habits. If the prediction patterns work, this could really help plan a parent’s time – knowing how long you’ve got until they wake up can be invaluable information. SAFE Kids Paxie Band is a tracking device for kids, measuring route, ambient temperature and heart rate. Quite importantly, it comes in interchangeable colour schemes and patterns to try and ensure the children actually want to wear it.
The range of tools that could find their place in a family’s home is very impressive. And as much as I am impressed, I am curious to see how parents adapt to the availability of these devices and negotiate between a tech-free approach to parenting and one which gives them all the data they want, as well as how companies market their way from a niche product to something desired en masse.
Devices which help, but you don’t need to wear them
LilyPad is a device that goes straight into the pool to measure solar intensity and tell us how much and what type of sunscreen needs to be put on. A connected BabyGlgl Bottle tracks how much food a baby has had, but also helps estimate the right angle at which to hold the bottle – to avoid air bubbles getting in.
mamaRoo is a baby seat that bounces up and down and sways side to side, just like parents do when comforting their babies. Whilst a parent’s comfort comes from something more meaningful than purely their range of motions, this chair looks like a very interesting product and has been adapted to a range of needs: from having an insert to make it fit around a new-born, to being able to recline it when needed.
Does MeccaNoid sound familiar? It should, as this four-foot tall robot comes from the well-known Meccano. This is where it gets exciting: kids can not only build this robot from scratch by themselves, but they also get to programme it to speak or dance amongst other things. I loved this idea beyond measure, and I must admit it looks pretty amazing in action (see video). A nice touch is that the company created a junior line to help kids get accustomed to building and programming before they get to make the “big guy”.
We also saw Ozobot, which is a palm-sized robot that can be programmed to move, play and dance using colour coded patterns. At its basic, it follows colourful lines on white paper, dictating it where and how to go (e.g blue means speed up, red means turn around), but it can also be taught new commands via a kids-friendly coding language or it can be used as a tool in games apps that come with it.
What we had, but better (bigger)
Tablets continue to be big news – some of them quite literally so. Whilst a number of companies such as Kurio and School Zone launched their latest kids’ offerings, the award for most mentions must go to Fuhu’s Big Tab, which just keeps getting larger. This year we go as far as a 65-inch tablet that is marketed as kids-friendly and contains an HDMI-slot to be used as a smart TV.
Hope you enjoyed this somewhat fast-paced summary and let me know what you think of these innovations and if you saw anything else that you think I must know about.
Image courtesy of Meccano