This piece was originally published on Uncubed.
Sure there’s nothing more miraculous than a newborn child. But have you ever looked into the flashing eyes and drooling maw of an infant and thought, “Let’s take this up a notch”? Well you’re not alone. There’s a wild world of insane tech that promises to turn your baby into a Bluetooth-connected, wifi-enabled social media thinkfluencer.
The value of the global baby care market is estimated to hit $66.8 billion in 2017, up from $47.7 billion in 2012, according to Statista. So it’s little surprise that tech has swooped into the space, selling anxious parents gadgets and gizmos that promise some level of control in a typically fraught, fearful time.
Check out some of the gadgets, clothes, and apps that promise to bring parenting into the 21st century.
Quantify your baby.
So much of infant care is measured in percentiles and benchmarks, it makes sense that parents would want to crunch the numbers. The Sproutling baby monitor ($299) looks troublingly like an ankle monitor for the cutest little parolee you’ve ever seen. Their health sensing device measures heart rate, motion, and more to track if an infant is sleeping soundly; the connected app promises to predict a baby’s sleep habits and wake-up times. In February, Mattel acquired the San Francisco company.
The Pacif-I ($55) is a bluetooth-enabled pacifier that doubles as a thermometer. The info is then logged on iPhone or Android; the company suggests that long-term temperature data is useful for medical purposes.
The forthcoming Baby Gigl (price TBD) from France bills itself as “the world’s first smart baby bottle holder” – the device ensures the bottle is being held at the correct angle as well as logging meal time, duration, and quantity. And if you’ve ever dreamed of watching a leather-jacketed, bouffanted Frenchman feeding a baby, they’ve got just the video for you.
Starling ($169) is another clip-on, though this one suggests it will help “boost your baby’s IQ”. The device tracks the number of words a baby hears every day; the idea is that the more vocabulary a child is introduced to, the more successful she will become.
Don’t freak out.
There’s a lot to be afraid of when you’re a new parent. And while these products don’t quite promise total peace of mind, they do make it easier to relax.
The Owlet Smart Sock ($250) monitors an infant’s heart rate and oxygen level while she sleeps, alerting parents if she stops breathing.
The Mimo Smart Monitor ($199) is a Bluetooth Low Energy-equipped onesie that monitors a baby’s breathing, sleeping temperature, body position, and activity level; the information, alone with live audio, is sent to a parent’s smart device.
And then there’s Monbaby ($129), a “Smart Button” that clips to an infant’s clothing and monitors his vitals, syncing with iPhone and Android. The Snuza Hero ($120) clips to an infant’s diaper and does much the same thing.
The jury is out.
And then there’s the baby tech that just feels a little… off.
New Born Fame is a child’s mobile that features the logos for Facebook (fb), Twitter (twtr) and more. Every time an infant touches one of them, the device takes a short video and posts it to the corresponding social media network. Thankfully the device, created by Dutch designer Laura Cornet as a thesis project, isn’t yet available to consumers.
Alternately, if you want to give your child the kind of developmental disorder that only an addiction to tech can provide, the CTA Digital 2-in-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad is the perfect solution.
Of course, before you drop a few thousand dollars on equipping your child with enough equipment to rival the Terminator, it’s worth remembering that humanity has survived for millennia without the aid of an iPad-equipped potty.