At the recent CES 2016 show, coverage, I was excited to see all the incredible tech designed just to help parents make our lives run a little smoother on a day-to-day basis. (No diaper changing robots yet, sorry.) From trusted brands showing off impressive new technologies for the home, to some remarkable new brands that are thrilling to get to know, I only wish I had a lot of these ten years ago when my own first child was born.
More and more cool tech for parents will this year, but here are the nine items that really caught my attention and will surely make their mark in 2016:
4moms Self-Installing Car Seat: Literally a life-saver
I am always shocked when I see the statistic that 4 out of 5 car seats aren’t installed correctly. One company doing something about it is the always innovative 4moms, with a brand new, ingenious, self-installing car seat. The base wirelessly connects to an app that walks you through each step of installation, and the tech in the base does the rest to adjust, rejigger and ensure proper settings for tension and slope. Then, after the car seat is locked in properly, the app will continuously monitor its position and even alert you if anything is awry. ($499, coming June 2016)
Withings Thermo Smart Thermometer: No-hassle, accurate readings any time.
If you’ve ever tried to take an accurate reading of a baby’s temperature in the middle of the night, you know it’s no easy task. The new Withings Thermo (yes, that Withings) is an amazing temporal thermometer that can get an accurate reading in just two seconds from a touch to the temple, thanks to 16 infrared sensors. Not only that, this smart thermometer connects to an app, providing you with a full log of readings for multiple profiles. It will be interesting to see how it compares with other newfangled thermometers we’ve covered, but it looks to be a winner, and the ergonomic form factor is pretty gorgeous. ($99.99, coming March 2016)
Motorola Baby Connect 7: Know all, see all.
We’ve come so far from the pixelated little screens of baby monitors of yore. However the Motorola Baby Connect 7, coming soon, is pretty awesome. This evolution of the terrific Motorola MBP36S Baby Monitor we recommended when it was released now boasts a huge 7″ display (almost tablet size!) that will show you every inch of your adorable sleeping angel. Or, non-sleeping angel as the case often is. It’s packed with monitors to track temperature and noise levels, it offers two-way audio and even has night vision. It’s also WiFi enabled, letting you use an app to see the action, and if you’re scared that even the most quiet tiptoe through the bedroom door will wake the baby, you can pan and zoom the camera from your smartphone or tablet. Now that’s a whole lot of monitor, and more than most parents need. But especially for parents of preemies or twins who need a lot of extra peace of mind, this could be a game-changer. ($399, coming summer 2016)
LG Twin Wash: Run two loads at once, really.
I’ve never coveted a washing machine before, and yet there I was, coveting one, when I saw the LG Twin Wash in person. The most impressive feature is that it lets you run two loads at the same time thanks to an add-on Sidekick Pedestal unit at the bottom for smaller loads. Two loads at the same time! One washer! Yeah, I thought it was worth repeating. Perfect for those game mornings you realize the soccer jersey is still dirty and don’t want to devote an entire big wash to it. The aesthetics of the LG Twin Wash alone make it a gorgeous addition to any laundry room. Plus it’s fingerprint-proof and smudge resistant, which would be even more super if my kids actually did laundry. ($1799 for the washer + $779 for LG Twin Wash add-on uni, available now at Best Buy.)
Whirlpool French Door Smart Refrigerator: More than your av-er-age fridge.
Since I’m on the topic of appliance envy, I am dreaming about my Whirlpool’s Concept Kitchen of the Future, including an interactive dashboard and sink/dishwasher combo in one. But for right now, there’s the impressive Whirlpool French Door Smart fridge which is now firmly on my dream kitchen list. Everything is arranged so smartly inside, giving you ample room for all the big and little items you cram into your fridges even while keeping it accessible. I also adore features like sliding shelves that adjust to make room for say a big platter or a frozen pizza. But what makes it especially smart is WiFi connection to an app, alerting you to a power outage or notifying you about routine maintenance, like when the water filter needs changing. ($3,500, May 2016)
Gerber BabyNes: The latest in a line of “like a Keurig for babies”
Oh, those sleepless nights when I’d stumble downstairs and try to rifle through the cabinets to get the baby’s formula ready. Not anymore with the BabyNes system, which is essentially a Keurig for babies. It’s similar to the fantastic Baby Brezza in that it dispenses ready-made, warmed milk instantly, but instead of a central receptacle for formula, the BabyNes comes with its own k-cup style capsule that you pop into the machine. So yes, this is all about convenience and the technology is impressive — it keeps track of feedings, provides alerts and lets you reorder all from a WiFi connected app — though the eco-impact of all those capsules does give us pause. ($249 for dispenser, $52 for a pack of 28 capsules)
Kuna: A home security system that’s perfect for parents
Wi-Fi doorbells hit the scene last year, giving parents the ability to see who’s at the door right from your phones, which is helpful when you’re just sitting down to dinner, or you’re glued to the glider nursing a newborn. At this year’s CES show, this concept was taken a step further with technology like Kuna, a smart home security security system that we recently covered. What’s impressive is that it’s built into the light fixture itself so it really is hidden. Not only does Kuna’s built-in camera detect movement, but the apps shows who’s there, sends alerts to your phone, lets you communicate via two-way audio, and even allows you to trigger an alarm. (Prices start at $129 for one fixture, available now)
Cujo: Home hacking protection with business-level security
While it’s important to address security outside of your home, Cujo focuses on the security inside, keeping an eye on all those devices connected to your network to prevent any kind of antivirus, malware, phishing or hacking attacks. While hackers targeting baby monitors makes splashy (and often misleading) headlines on occasion, we still don’t think it’s a major focus of their attention. Even so, it’s nice to have the added level of security for everything in our homes that run through our routers; think smartphones, monitors, gaming systems, thermostats, smart TVs, smart appliances, you name it. With the continued influx of smart home gadgets in our future, Cujo could become be an essential for added peace of mind. ($49 with 6 free months of services if you order through their Indiegogo campaign; normally $103, shipping March, 2016)
SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive: For parents who take photos. Know any of those?
While not specifically for parents, I think this little stick is an ingenious way to ensure that those precious family photos on your phone are preserved forever. It lets you automatically upload and backup your photos without the need for wires or plugs. It even saves videos and enables you to share everything with friends and family via the corresponding mobile app. It comes in varying sizes, but when it comes to storage, I always say, the bigger, the better. (200 GB for $119.99)