The tech industry has long had its gleaming eye on babies and 2016 sees the birth of ‘smart’ versions of many parenting basics.
On the way is a dummy that takes your baby’s temperature, a car seat Smart Clip that alerts you if you forgetfully leave your child in the car or a baby bottle with a motion sensor that detects the exact angle of the bottle, and then teaches you the better way to hold it.
And following dad Mark Zuckerberg’s recent enthusiastic outburst, we may soon have robot nannies helping with the childcare.
But until some international tech giant (my money’s on an Apple/Facebook collaboration) reveals that we can buy our very own C3PO or Rosie Jetson robot, we’ll have to make do with these 4 innovative baby gadgets set for launch during 2016.
1 4Moms self-installing car seat
Anyone familiar with the 4Moms brand knows that technology is at the forefront of all of its products and this car seat has been one of the biggest hits of the recent 2016 CES (Consumer Electronics Show).
Described as a ‘self-installing’ infant seat, it doesn’t actually install itself. Like all ISOFIX car seats and bases you still have to click the two ISOFIX clips into the car connectors manually.
But what it does do (which is very helpful) is automatically adjust the level of the base once clipped in and makes sure it’s at the correct level and tension for your car.
If you’re wondering why that’s so important, it’s because when a seat is not at the correct level with the back seat it can be “potentially dangerous” to your child, according to research conducted by the Medicine Injury Biomechanics Research Center in Ohio State College.
Another ‘smart’ aspect of the car seat is its ‘Customised Installation and Education app’. which allows the car seat to – you’ve guessed it – connect to mobile phones. The app continuously monitors the seat’s status, shows you on your phone when the seat is connected properly and ready to go and alerts you when your child is growing out of the seat.
It’s worth noting that the car seat base has batteries and will need to be charged. We’re not sure of the frequency of charges, but it may mean you’ll have to take it in and out of the car when it needs its juice.
When: The car seat won’t be available in the US until June, so don’t expect it to hit our shore any earlier than autumn 2016.
How much: It’s likely to be around £500, which is very steep for a car seat that’ll only last around 12 months, but can you put a price on peace of mind?
2 First Response Pregnancy Pro Digital Pregnancy Test
Pregnancy tests have come a long way from the ancient Egyptian days of peeing on barley.
From tests that work 5 days before your period is due to tests that spell out if you’re pregnant and tell you how many weeks you are, pregnancy predictors are getting smarter. .
Now comes a Bluetooth pregnancy test linked to an app, developed by Qualcomm and First Response. It sounds hi-tech, but it’s not rocket science. The app basically helps you take your test – a sort of electronic hand holding.
It provides calming, informing or entertaining distractions (you get to choose) during the 3-minute wait before results are displayed. And to avoid any ‘Am I/aren’t I’ confusion, the results are spelt out in large text on your phone, so there’s little room for misinterpretation.
The app also offers suggestions, tips and articles on what to do next, If it’s positive, the app can give you updates about the baby’s growth and suggest questions you may want to ask your doctor.
When: The test will be available in the US this Spring, but First Response hasn’t announced when it might hit our shores.
How much: It’s likely to set you back around £20 for one, and no, it isn’t reusable.
3 Smarter baby monitors
There was a time we used baby monitors just to tell us when our little ones were awake or not. How times have changed.
Now, of course, the most developed infant monitors can intelligently track multiple things at the same time, like our baby’s movement, heartbeat, and temperature, while providing entertainment with music and a lightshow.
And 2016 sees a couple of new developments. The Project Nursery monitor comes with the normal baby and parent units, together with a 4cm mini-monitor that fits into the palm of your hand – we’re not sure why.
More interesting is the development of the OneLink monitor from First Alert, which offers all the usual feature of a baby monitor, like a high-def live feed of your little one, but also digitally monitors your baby’s breathing and sends you an immediate alert if they stop breathing or if the pattern changes suddenly.
When: Could be a way off as they’re still only in prototype mode.
4 Wonderbag Slow Cooker
Cooking on the go now has a new meaning with the Wonderbag. The electric-free, portable slow cooker bag cooks your meals for you in a handbag that you can carry around. That’s right, it cooks your food in your handbag.
It works by continually heating food that has already been brought to the boil and then slow cooks it for up to 8 hours. The Wonderbag uses repurposed foam chips in the lining of the bag to form an insulation chamber.
That means not only does the bag cook, it can also be used as a thermos to keep already cooked, hot food warm, so no cold bacon sarnies at football matches any more.
When: On sale now – buy one from Amazon
How much: A 6 litre bag costs £39.95 while a 10 litre bag is £60.