Top 8 Gadgets From CES 2012 That Promise to Make A Parent’s Life Better

Wii U from Nintendo

As it turns out, we were not the only blog covering the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2012) in Las Vegas last week.   Yes, there are now endless “what was cool” at CES articles, but not many have looked at things from a parent’s point of view.  As Moms and Dads, our time is precious and finding gadgets that work out of the box trumps bleeding edge products that require more care than our children.

As we wandered the 35 Football fields worth of products, we had one goal in mind – find products that can make a parent’s life a little easier, better or more fun in some way.   With this in mind, we  now present our list of the Top 8 Gadgets From CES 2012 That Promise to Solve Parents’ Problems

Problem: You Have So Much Cash That Counting It Has Made Your Arms Weak

Solution – Origami Motorized Folding Stroller

Origami Stroller

As a New Yorker I have had my share of battles with baby strollers as I try to fold them up with one hand and jump on a bus….without forgetting my kid at the bus stop.  Now 4Moms has brought uber-cool technology to the world of strollers with the Origami power-folding stroller.

Press a button and this motorized stroller automatically folds and unfolds.   Wait, don’t order yet – this stroller also has an LCD screen to show if your baby has gone AWOL, display the distance you’ve walked and show battery power.   Worried people won’t see you coming?  Fear not, the Origami has daytime running lights.  Need to charge up your phone?  Just plug it into the Origami.  Where does the Origami get its power?  The wheels generate power as you walk and it is stored in its battery.

So, what is the catch?  At $850 this stroller costs more than my first car.  Of course, if you are so rich that counting all your cash has made your arms too weak to fold a stroller, the Origami is the perfect solution to all your problems.

Problem:  On a Family Vacation and Hotel Room Only Has Wired Internet

Solution – D-Link All-In-One Mobile Companion (DIR-505)

DLink DIR-505

Holy crap, how come Travelocity didn’t tell you the family friendly hotel was lacking wireless internet?  How will the kids stream Netflix on ther Nintendo 3DS? A WiFi only iPad suddenly becomes a paperweight when the kids can’t get into iTunes.  Fear not Moms and Dads, D-Link has a solution.

The D-Link All-In-One Mobile Companion (DIR-505), about $75 and available in April,  is about the size of a wall adapter and can magically take the wired internet in your hotel room and bath your kids in all the wireless goodness they can’t live without.  In addition, stick a USB drive into the All-In-One Mobile Companion and stream the content off that drive to any device – iPhone, iPad or laptop.  This may not be the sexist gadget, but the ability to turn wired internet to wireless and stream from a USB drive, can be a real sanity saver when wireless is absent.

Problem: Kids Addicted to Video Games and As Active As a Dead Slug

Solution – GeoPalz Pedometers

GeoPalz, Geo-Palz pedometer

With all the incredible technology kids have today, it can be very hard get them to do low tech things like walking, running and playing outside.  GeoPalz pedometers allow parents to make their kids an offer they can’t refuse…move around in the real world and earn points, rewards and badges in a virtual world!

GeoPalz Pedometers ($15-$25) come in a number of different designs that kids will love and are simple to operate.  Kids can clip it on their shoe or hip and then at the end of the day they simply enter the code shown on their pedometer on the GeoPalz website and their steps for the day are uploaded.  The site allows parents to see how active the kids were and kids love being more active so they can win virtual badges and real world activity based products like baseballs and soccer balls.

Problem: You Don’t Have The Super Power That Allows You To Be In Two Places At Once

Solution – Looxcie and LooxcieLive

Looxcie video streaming bluetooth headset

Dad, you need to drop off Jane at swim lessons when across town, Mom is taking Jack for his basketball try outs.   How could Dad possibly see Jack dominate his basketball tryouts?  By having Mom wear a Looxcie camera!

Looxcie ($120-$180) is a tiny bluetooth camera that works with your smartphone.  Simply clip the camera to your ear, install the LooxcieLive app on your iPhone or Android phone and everything Mom sees is broadcast live (via her smartphone) to Dad’s phone.  You can also record with the Looxcie (and share via social media sites) or have any number or people watch your live feed of Jack’s basketball tryout via a web interface.  Hello hands-free, super simple video streaming and goodbye privacy!

Problem: At Least One Of Your Kids Is Out Of Focus In All Your Photos

Solution – Lytro Light Field Camera

Lytro Light Field Camera

Always such a hard choice – do I focus on John who is in the foreground or David who is making a crazy face in the background?  Somehow I end up getting that trash can that is between both of them in perfect focus…it is a very cute trash can.  Now the Lytro camera promises to end the focus dilemma once and for all by allowing you to focus your photos AFTER you take them!

The Lytro camera ($400-$500) is what they call a light field camera.  The digital camera is able to capture all the light, at all angles, in the scene you are photographing.   This means when you are viewing the photos you shot on your computer, you can click on any part of the image and bring that area into focus.   It is as if you took multiple photos, with every object in the scene in perfect focus.  Now if only they could find a way to turn my son’s crazy face into an angelic smile.

Problem: You Were Born With Only Two Arms

Solution – SteadyWeb String Tripod

SteadyWeb String Tripod

You know why all that zoomed in footage you shoot of Tyler’s baseball game looks so terrible?  You only have two arms.  In order to get stability when shooting anything – video or photos, you need that third arm…like a tripod.  As bionic third arms will probably not be announced until CES 2014, the SteadyWeb String Tripod is your best bet for now.

The SteadyWeb (about $15) proves that sometimes simple solutions do make the most sense.  The SteadyWeb is basically a retractable string, one end clips to your belt and the other end screws into the tripod mount on your camera.  Pull the string tight and lock it in place.  Now pull up as you shoot and your arms and the string create a  very stable shooting environment.  Pans suddenly become smooth and zooming in does not create instant nausea.

Problem: Your Kid Would Like To Build a Robot, But He Is Not An Evil Genius

Solution – Cubelets from Modular Robotics

Cubelets Robots

In theory, what kid wouldn’t want to build a cool robot? In practice, building a robot usually requires advanced programming and wiring skills, which younger kids are lacking.  Enter Cubelets from Modular Robotics.  Cubelets are a robot constuction kit for kids that require no programming or wiring.

A Cubelets kit is made up of a series of blocks that kids can just snap together.  One block may be a light sensor, another has wheels and a third has a proximity sensor.  Kids simply snap together blocks to create robots that move and interact with their environment.  For now the price is steep, $160 for a 6 block set, but once they make a kit that allows you to build a robot that prints money, I am all over this one.

Problem: You Have Too Much Food in the Fridge And Not Enough Kids in Your House

Solution – Wii U from Nintendo

Wii U from Nintendo

Sorry, but I got to try out the Wii U at CES 2012 and now I will never stop talking about it.  As we already discussed in our Wii U hands-on article, the Wii U is the next generation game system from Nintendo.  The Wii U uses a controller with a beautiful color touch screen that looks as nice as an iPad.   The second screen will allow whole new types of games to be played on the Wii U that would not be possible with a “standard” video game system.

If you have the problem of having lots of food and snacks in your house, and not enough of the neighborhood kids hanging out in your basement playroom, just get a Wii U when they come out (sometime between 6/1/12 – 11/1/12) and I guarantee your problems will be solved.

These Are Not Reviews, Repeat These Are Not Reviews

As regular readers know, we only review products once we have had a chance to fully test them out in a real world setting.  At this point, we have seen quick demos of the products at CES and we were impressed, but we will need to do full reviews before we can recommend any of the products on this list.   Some of these gadgets have not even been released yet, but once they are available we will try get our hands on these gizmos so we can do full, real world reviews.

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