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Baby tech helps parents rest easier

Updated January 7, 2020 - 3:01 pm

It’s like navigating a biker bar here, breast pumps in place of Harleys.

You have to be careful who you make eye contact with in Hall D of the Sands Conventions Center right about now, lest you earn some unwanted attention — in this case, from an affable, yet over-caffeinated gentleman peddling technology that alerts you when your child has filled his diaper.



Yes, the robots are coming for your baby at CES 2020, and so are their makers, eager to alert passersby to the benefits of smart fertility trackers and devices that enable you to warm a bottle of infant formula from your phone.

Perusing the family tech offerings at CES, the emphasis is on two things: Making mom and dad’s life easier, and toys that attempt to turn screen time into learning time.

To the former, getting baby to sleep can be the mother — and father — of all challenges, those among us who have lived through it often recollecting their experiences like combat veterans sharing battle scars.

“I still have nightmares,” chuckles Jill Gilbert, producer for the Baby Tech summit at CES. “I was damaged goods after that.”

And so there’s an abundance of tech here aimed at getting newborns a good night’s rest, from smart cribs like HappiestBaby’s Snoo, whose rumbly sounds and motions approximate the sensation of being in the womb, to Happy Tykes’ Pali, a bear-shaped sleep trainer for kids with a countdown timer alerting youngsters when slumber time is over, upon which a reward drawer opens.

Elsewhere, other practical parental concerns were addressed by contraptions like Microtips Technology’s Intelligent Diaper Sensor — record your child’s potty history on your smartphone and share with your co-workers at lunch! — and Elvie, a silent wearable breast pump that can be worn beneath the clothes and hence used anywhere, so mom doesn’t have excuse herself to a light-less utility closet in the basement when it’s time to get the job done. (The team behind the product flew into CES in their own chopper dubbed Mammary One, of course.)

On the play front, the trend is toward interactivity and immersion, with buildable robots designed to teach block-based coding at a young age in Bell AI’s Mabot and Clicbot, a wiggly, noodle-looking contraption with emotions designed by a Pixar vet.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning was a recurring theme, highlighted by Shifu’s Tacto, a board game come to life, essentially, that teaches chemistry lessons, among other things, and Plugo, an AR gaming kit with magnetic blocks that develops engineering skills.

Lincoln Logs, these aren’t.

“Kids still learn through play,” says Tonda Bunge Sellers, the family tech producer for CES. “I think with that we have to create things that create fun and excitement from a perspective of utilizing technology to really home in on personalization and what data science is sharing about individuals, how they learn, where they learn and how to build off of that.”

Five more innovations in baby tech at CES 2020:

Thinker-tinker Octobo robot: This cuddly learning robot is a multimedia platform embedded in a plush octopus toy aimed at ages 0 to 7. Covered in sensors, Octobo combines games, content, apps, storybooks and interactive pieces to use touch and cognitive association to enhance motor skills and social interaction during some of your child’s first learning experiences. Available now for $149.

Octobo (Thinker Tinker)
Octobo (Thinker Tinker)

Motorola Roo heartbeat monitor: Hear your baby’s heartbeat from the comforts of home, as opposed to the doctor’s office, for the first time with this noninvasive prenatal listening device. The Roo both plays said heartbeat and records the data, enabling the baby’s growth to be measured during the third trimester. It also can be connected to smartphones and tablets, and works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant so that developments in your pregnancy can be shared with family and friends. Available now for $49.

Roo heartbeat monitor (Motorola)
Roo heartbeat monitor (Motorola)

4moms mamaRoo sleep bassinet: This high-tech bassinet features five motions (car ride, wave, kangaroo, tree swing and rock-a-bye) and four white noises (rain, ocean, fan and a shush) to help soothe babies for better rest. Parents can control all of these functions with the 4moms app, which also includes a timer to help establish a bedtime routine. Due out in February.

mamaRoo sleep bassinet (4moms )
mamaRoo sleep bassinet (4moms )

Owlet DreamLab: Save a trip to the sleep consultant with your newborn with personalized sleep-training advice delivered digitally through your smartphone, computer or tablet. Sleep experts Jill Spivack and Jen Waldburger provide the insight behind the program, which gives users an assessment of their child’s sleep needs and customized feedback on what is preventing their baby from getting a full night’s rest. The DreamLab then supplies a training method with daily guidance right down to when your child’s next nap should be. Available now for $199.

DreamLab (Owlet)
DreamLab (Owlet)

Motorola Comfort Cloud baby lounger: A common anxiety among parents when they actually do get their newborn to sleep is how the little one is doing throughout the night. This baby lounge attempts to ease those worries by providing sleep analytics to Mom and Dad, tracking their child’s heart and respiratory rates, body movement and sleep times via a sensor located beneath its cushion. Through the Hubble Connected app, parents also can monitor their baby’s sleep patterns in live time, ideally enabling them to rest as easy as the newest addition to the family. Release date to be determined.

Comfort Cloud smart sleep sensor (Motorola)
Comfort Cloud smart sleep sensor (Motorola)

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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