Las VEGAS (AP) — Every year, the CES gadget show brings more devices promising to make life a little bit easier for harried parents.
Sure, the kids might love them too: who wouldn’t want a computerized Harry Potter wand that also teaches coding? The Las Vegas show’s growing “family tech” sector encompasses products that range from artificially intelligent toys and baby monitors to internet-connected breast pumps.
Their common thread is an appeal to parental anxiety about raising smart kids, occupying their time, tracking their whereabouts and making sure they’re healthy and safe.
Some also come with subtle trade-offs. “Technology makes us forget what we know about life,” said psychologist Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies people’s relationships with machines. She’s particularly concerned about robots that seek to befriend or babysit young children.
TECH IN THE WOMB
Of course, parental anxiety begins even before a child is born — hence Owlet’s new $299 pregnancy band that wraps around a woman’s abdomen to track fetal heartbeats by taking an electrocardiogram. The idea is to put on the stretchy band before going to sleep starting about three to four months before the due date.
It sends a morning wellness report to a user’s smartphone app, with details including an expectant mother’s contractions and sleep positions — and warnings if fetal heartbeat or movements fall outside acceptable ranges.
An owl-faced medallion above the mother’s belly gives the band the look of a superhero emblem — and why not? Pregnancy is tough.
“It’s really just having that extra piece of mind, between doctor’s visits, that everything is OK,” said Owlet spokeswoman Misty Bond.- AP NEWS