It's funny what kind of technology starts to look sexy when your focus shifts to family and home. Mostly, you just want things to make your life a little easier -- and not require too much effort. There are several family-focused offerings at CES. Here are a couple that caught my eye.
For new parents -- and worn and weary parents -- ensuring the car seat is installed properly can involve a bit of guesswork and uncertainty. The 4Moms infant car seat helps to resolve some of that: It levels and tensions itself automatically.
In conjunction with a smartphone app, the system can assess the incline of the car and account for it, tell you where the safest installation spots are for your car model via a VIN scanner and then test whether the seat is securely installed. The system verifies every time the seat is placed in the dock.
Every step of the way, the app walks you through, with videos explaining various elements such as the LATCH system anchors and tethers that come in most cars today. It also offers guidance on when your child might outgrow the seat.
The seat itself incorporates parent-friendly elements such as pockets to tuck the straps in while you're putting baby in the seat and a buckle that won't get stuck under baby's legs. There's also a peekaboo window in the back that lets you can peek in on baby from the driver seat.
Some quibbles: It doesn't account for needing more than one car seat, they don't (yet) have toddler or convertible car seats available, and the price, while consistent with the company's suite of products, might be a bit high for the average family.
So many more robots for kids to build and program. Last year, WonderWorkshop's programmable robots Dash and Dot were a standout. This year, there are several build-it-yourself kits for programmable robots. Among them, LEGO Education's WeDo 2.0 for second- through fourth-graders offers a wireless, tablet-ready robot-based learning system, complete with teacher-tested elementary curriculum.
LEGO uses its bricks as the building blocks to put fun into functional learning. The WeDo 2.0 core set comes with a sorting tray and labels, 280 LEGO pieces, a low-energy Bluetooth Smarthub, a medium motor, a motion sensor, and a tilt sensor, all in a blue storage box.
The curriculum pack includes 12 activities that are in line with Common Core and Next Generation Science standards and encourages the development of collaborative learning skills such as problem solving and cooperation. And it aims to assist the teacher, who may not be a STEM specialist, to confidently and knowledgeably lead the project-based activities.
The system is compatible with iOS 8.1 and up, Android 4.4.4 and up, Windows 7 and 8 and MacOS. WeDo 2.0 is not compatible with the original WeDo.
Going through the growing pains of parenthood? Join me on the journey: @mmaltaisla