Every January the tech world converges on Las Vegas for its huge trade show, CES. It's all about showcasing the newest, shiniest and sometimes wackiest product innovations.
This year, among all the wearable gadgetry and latest 3D printing offerings, it was clear these guys are also trying hard to cater to parents with gadgets all bearing names declaring gig, i, intel and such like. But are their ideas smart ways to make frazzled new mums' and dads' lives easier, or simply a spectacular waste of money that fuels paranoid helicopter parenting?
BabyGigL from Slow Control
Cost: 100 euros
What it does: This plastic cover fits around a baby bottle, monitoring milk intake, feeding time and the angle of the bottle during feeds (this bit's with a view to reducing air intake). It all works via Bluetooth sending data to a smartphone app, where everything you could possibly (not) need to know about your infant's feeds can be tracked.
Due for launch: Autumn 2015
Verdict: Serious over-engineering, we reckon. Can't we see how much a bottle fed baby has drunk, thanks to those measurements on the bottle? And take an educated guess at the right angle to hold the bottle without it all being recorded literally to the nth degree?
Pacif-i by Blue Maestro
What it does: A smart dummy/soother which measures your baby's body temperature and then sends the info to your smartphone or tablet. You can see a chart of any changes over time and if the dummy falls out of their mouth, there's a proximity sensor to alert you too.
It also allows you to receive an alarm if your child goes beyond a certain distance – up to 30 metres away from the device.
Due for launch: February 2015 via the bluemaestro.com website.
Verdict: Could be vaguely useful to keep an eye on temperature changes when a little one is ill and feverish, but surely it'll be beset with endless irritating false alarms whenever the soother falls out of their mouth?
Cost: Still to be confirmed.
What it does: A small and soft disposable sticker that takes a child's temperature directly from their skin and shares the data with a smartphone app for up to 24 hours. A simple colour-coding scheme shows normal temperatures as yellow, moderately high as orange and worryingly high as red (parents get to determine the red zone temperature range). You can elect to receive alerts when the red zone is reached.
Due for launch: Unknown as it's still at the FDA approval stage in the United States.
Verdict: Assuming it stays put the way it's supposed to, this sounds like a welcome invention, as you wouldn't have to risk waking a sleeping, ill child up to take their temperature as often, or to keep replacing the dummy in their mouths as you would probably have to with the Pacifi (above).
Our only concern is if it were to lull parents into thinking they don't need to go and physically check on a sick child as often.
SleepIQ kids Bed from Sleep Number
What it does: A bed with tiny hidden sensors that track a child's sleep quality based on their breathing, heart rate and movement. It takes all this info and provides a 'sleep IQ' score out of 100. And yep, you've guessed it, this data then gets sent to an app for parents to analyse over their toast and coffee in the morning...
The idea is that grown-up carers and older children themselves, can keep check on the effect exercise, diet and screen use have on their sleep quality and make adjustments accordingly.
Other features do sound relatively practical and include a night light that you can turn off remotely and the ability to raise the head end for reading or if a child has got a cold. There's another light, this time a gentle one underneath the base which comes on if they get up in the dark and an alert to let you know they're out of bed when they shouldn't be (handy for sleepwalking offspring admittedly). The icing on the cake: a monster detector that checks if the area under the bed is free of scary goings-on...yes really.
Due for launch: Later in 2015 in the US.
Verdict: At that price and with all the obsessive helicopter parenting involved, we're sticking with plain old-fashioned common sense ways to consider if they had a good night's sleep i.e. eye bags and grouchy moods.
Intel Smart Clip
Cost: It's still at the prototype stage so this is unknown.
What it does: Clips onto a baby or toddler's car seat straps acting as a warning system if a parent or carer - or more accurately their gadget that's linked to the clip - then gets out of the car with the child not with them. Why the need? Every year, tragically, dozens of young children die after being left in vehicles in the US, most of them from heat stroke and many having not been left intentionally. The gadget also reports on 'ambient temperature' in the vehicle.
Due for launch: Too early to say.
Verdict: We find it hard to believe this is needed but if the statistics Intel quotes are indeed true - and there's no reason to think they wouldn't be in this case - then maybe this clip is going to start popping up as an integral feature in car seats, particularly in countries with hot climates.
Would you buy any of these gadgets or do most of them simply fuel parental anxiety or take on roles we should be doing 'manually'?
Do they sound better than traditional methods of keeping an eye on your children?