Every year, the CES gadgetshow brings with it more devices that are promising to make life a little easier for harried parents.
Of course, the children can love them too: who does not want an automated Harry Potter wand learning code?
The growing & # 39; family tech sector of the Las Vegas show includes products that range from artificially intelligent toys and baby monitors to internet-connected breast pumps.
One of the highlights of this year's show was a device designed to make breast pumping a smoother experience, complete with built-in breast massage devices that can shorten total pumping time.
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Every year, the CES gadgetshow brings with it more devices that are promising to make life a little easier for harried parents. The Smartbeat video baby monitor and breath monitor can be seen in Smartbeat mode
Imalac & # 39; s breast massage device & # 39; Nurture & # 39; uses attachable cups to mimic hands-on pumps, according to the Kickstarter of the company.
Nurture will drastically improve the efficiency and convenience of milk expression when used in combination with an electric breast pump, "the company says.
According to Imalac, the device can reduce the pump time by more than 70 percent and increase the amount of milk by 30 percent.
Their common thread is a call to parental fear to raise smart children, spend their time, follow their whereabouts and ensure that they are healthy and safe.
Some also come with subtle compromises. "Technology makes us forget what we know about life", said psychologist Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies the relationships of people with machines.
Imalac & # 39; s breast massage device & # 39; Nurture & # 39; uses attachable cups to mimic hands-on pumps, according to the company's Kickstarter
She is especially concerned about robots that want to make friends or adapt to children at a young age.
Take the cute, hairy Woobo, intended as a true version of a child's imaginary friend who can help set up toothbrushing routines, answer complex questions, and play educational games.
It is part of a new social toy house industry, including robots such as Cozmo and Sony's dog-like Aibo.
A soft grip to the ears switches the Woobo with screen to listening mode. The $ 149 toy speaks in a childish tone and makes a game of boring chores that might otherwise require a parent's nagging.
According to Imalac, the device can reduce the pump time by more than 70 percent and increase the amount of milk by 30 percent
The cute, hairy Woobo, meant to be a true version of a child's imaginary friend, who can help set up toothbrush routines, answer complex questions, and play educational games. A Woobo talking robot can be seen in the Woobo stand
Mary Mendiola is wearing the Owlet Band pregnancy monitor at the Owlet booth at CES International, Wednesday, January 9, 2019, in Las Vegas. The device can follow the fetal heartbeat, kick and contractions
According to the makers Woobo does not lend the children to the screen because it invites them to find things at home, help parents with cooking or playing family games such as charades.
"Our focus on the content side is not to replace parents," said Shen Guo, who was co-founder of Woobo in Cambridge, after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. & # 39; It should improve the family's time. & # 39;
But the attraction for the emotional attachment and nurturing of a child causes alarm bells for Turkle, who warns against what she & artificial intimacy & # 39; mentions since the digital craze of Tamagotchi in the nineties.
Research has shown the benefits of children to play their inner feelings and concerns by projecting them onto inert dolls.
The Miku baby sleep and breath monitor can be seen in the Miku stand at CES International
But Turkle says that does not work if the toys seem real enough to have their own feelings.
& # 39; Imagine that empathy is not a good thing, Turkle said.
"All we know about children's development is that if you read to a child, what is going on, is the relationship, the talking, the connection, the mentoring, the security, the feeling that people like to learn.
& # 39; Why do we think this is a good idea to give this to a robot? & # 39;
Talk to creators of the next generation of baby monitors unveiled at CES and you would be surprised that generations of children have survived childhood without artificial intelligence systems that analyzed their breath.
A Nanit Plus baby breath monitor is mounted above a cradle on the Nanit cabin (shown on the left). On the right side a model wears the Owlet Band pregnancy monitor at the Owlet stand
A participant tests the Miku baby sleep and breath monitor in the Miku booth at CES International
& # 39; Baby & # 39; s want to breathe. Babies want to live, "says Colt Seman, co-founder of Miku, the founder of Los Angeles, who promises to monitor breathing and heartbeat without parents having to exert too much effort.
Regulators have not approved baby monitors for medical use and instead recommend parents to focus on providing a safe sleeping environment. Some doctors are worried that such devices create extra stress for parents.
The Chronolife connected vest can be seen
Unlike most previous offers, the latest crop of baby monitors that measure vital functions is & # 39; contactless & # 39; – which means that they do not work by attaching some electronics to the sock or chest of a baby.
The Raybaby device is similar to a one-eyed robot that detects breathing patterns using radar technology.
The non-ionizing radiation it releases is at a low level, but it can still disable some parents who are already worried about holding their babies too close to their smartphones.
Most other devices rely on the computer vision. A Nanit camera looks from above to a baby and measures sleep patterns by following the small movements of a specially designed swaddle.
It also uses the data it collects to recommend more consistent sleep times. Nanit & # 39; s Aaron Pollack recognizes that some parents can still check Nanit's phone app to check the respiratory data five times a night from sheer fear & # 39 ;.
& # 39; We're not trying to prevent that, & # 39; he said. We're just trying to give you some sense. & # 39;
Two others, Miku and Utah-based Smartbeat, each have a level of precision and analytical accuracy that can help predict when the baby gets sick.
According to the makers Woobo does not lend the children to the screen because it invites them to find things at home, help parents with cooking or playing family games such as charades. A man holds a Woobo talking robot at the Woobo booth at CES International, Wednesday 9 January
Raybaby baby sleep and breath monitors can be seen in the Raybaby stand
Both have telephone warning systems to report worrying respiratory irregularities. Smartbeat's analysis is purely based on images, while Miku also uses radar.
Miku's streamlined hardware costs some money: it's $ 399, well over $ 250 Smartbeat.
Parental anxiety naturally begins before a child is born – hence Owlet's new $ 299 pregnancy belt that wraps around a woman's belly to follow fetal heartbeats by taking an electrocardiogram.
The idea is to put on the elastic band before you go to sleep, about three to four months before the due date.
It sends a wellness report in the morning to a user's smartphone app, with details such as the contractions and sleeping positions of a pregnant mother – and warnings such as the fetal heartbeat or movements fall outside the acceptable ranges.
An owl-faced medallion above the belly of the mother gives the band the look of a superhero emblem – and why not? Pregnancy is difficult.
It's really that extra bit of spirit, between doctor's visits, that everything is alright, & # 39; said Owlet spokeswoman Misty Bond.