Where is my “I Survived the International Consumer Electronics Show” T-Shirt? Really, with over 2 million square feet of gadgets, don’t you think I deserve a T-Shirt for walking the whole show floor. Okay, technically I walked 36,789 steps of show space, which I of course know because I was wearing a FitBug Orb tracker. If you can figure out how 36,789 steps equates to 2 million square feet, you are a better man than me.
I digress, which tends to happen when you are overwhelmed by over 3,200 exhibitors and hundreds of thousands of gadgets. Yes, there were giant 4K TVs and concept cars that were much smarter than me, but really does any regular person buy this stuff? No. So, I have put my blinders on, focused and finally come up with our list –
33 Gadgets That Parents Could Actually Use
At Dad Does we have a simple test when reviewing products for Moms and Dads – does the product make a parent’s life simpler, easier or more fun in some way. With this litmus test in mind, we have come up with some gadgets from CES that Parents could actually use. Please understand we have not tested any of these products and many are still in development. Take this as a preview of what is coming…
Technology to Keep You Fit
Hey Moms and Dads, don’t kill the messenger, but we’re not getting any younger. If we have any hope of staying in shape and being able to keep up with the kids, we are going to need some help. Luckily the tech industry is all over this. Health and Fitness trackers were everywhere at CES 2014 and Bluetooth 4.0 now means that fitness trackers can do their magic without draining your phone’s battery. Here are some of the fitness gadgets that caught our eye…
Track Your Every Step…
Need some motivation to get up and moving? How about guilt and embarrassment? Clip a Fitbug Orb ($49) or Ibitz ($35-$49) to your belt and these tiny gadgets will track things like distance walked, aerobic exercise, calories burned and even in the the case of the Fitbug Orb – sleep quality. The devices are tiny and run on a watch battery that goes for months without needing to be changed.
What do you do with all this data? The FitBug Orb allows you to use an app on your smartphone to instantly see distance walked and set goals you want to achieve. If your goal is 10,000 steps and you see you are at 4,000 steps, the guilt will have you walking 6,000 steps around your house just to hit your goal!
iBitiz makes trackers for adults and kids. Kids get a fun smartphone app that shows them flying through space as they walk more and they can unlock rewards that you set for them. The Adult iBitz app also features goals and distance covered, but it has one more very clever motivational trick – the whole family can see their progress in one app. Nothing motivates you to get more active than seeing your kids lap you day in and day out!
Look Ma, No Heart Rate Strap….
Maybe you prefer to get your fitness feedback on your wrist? Numerous companies have you covered. The Mio Alpha ($199) is a watch that also doubles as an accurate fitness tracker. By passing laser light through your skin (I know, creepy, but you don’t feel it) the Mio can accurately track your heart rate – no more chest strap required. Looking for something a little less bulky? Go with the Mio Link ($TBD) it is just like the Alpha, but no watch – it beams the info to an app on your smartphone.
Does This Muscle Look Fat To You?
So, you have been motivated now to exercise, but is it really paying off? Are you decreasing fat and building muscle? I don’t know, but the Skulpt ($149) by Aim certainly does! Simply hold this from the future device up to your muscles and it determines muscle quality, fat and body composition. Seeing a fat percentage higher than your age? That will motivate any parent to hit the gym!
Stand Tall Moms and Dads
Lumo Lift ($69, pre-order) takes a different approach to fitness tracking. Yes, it tracks steps, calories burned, blah, blah, blah. What has everyone buzzing is that it also tracks if you are standing tall. Start to slouch and it can shake to let you know to stand up tall. It also sends the data to your smartphone, so you can see how much of the day you spend standing strong and confident. Personally, if I am just upright, I consider it a victory most days.
Here Comes The Sun…
Great, with all these fitness trackers you decide to get outside and be more active, but wait are you getting too much sun exposure? Should you wear sunscreen? Or do you need more Vitamin D? Put on the June by Netatmo ($TBD) and all will be revealed. The June tracks and measures sun exposure and sends info to your smartphone letting you know if you need sunscreen, sun glasses or if you should wear a hat. Just to be clear, June tracks the Sun, later on we talk about the devices that track your Son!
Health and Fitness Start On The Inside…
As any parent can tell you, being fit and happy is not just a physical thing, it is a mental thing. Use the HeartMath Inner Balance Sensor ($129) biofeedback tool to get your mind and body in sync. Perform breathing exercises using the sensor and app and train your body to respond to stress and anxiety better. Let’s be honest parents, no chance of removing stress from our lives, so we might as well learn how to deal with it better.
Technology to Keep You Fat
Okay, that is not exactly what the manufactures would call it, but this stuff makes it so easy to be lazy, which honestly, is exactly what parents need sometimes.
Why Reach Into Your Pocket? What Do You Think God Gave You Wrists For???
Reaching into your pocket to get your phone and check email or answer a text? Easy there big boy, you don’t want to pull a muscle. Why not just get the Neptune Pine ($335, pre-order). You could call the Neptune Pine a smart watch, but it is really the world’s smallest Android tablet! Yes, this is a fully functional tablet computer that happens to strap to your wrist. No phone necessary, the Neptune Pine sits on your wrist and allows you to access the world…without ever having to break a sweat by reaching into your pocket for your phone.
If you don’t mind keeping a phone in your pocket, you can go with one of the smart watches that works with your phone. The new Sony SmartWatch 2 ($199) pairs with your Android phone and lets you answer calls, respond to texts and more – all from your wrist.
More a Samsung guy than a Sony guy? Pickup the Samsung Galaxy Gear Watch ($299) and get basically the same functions.
You’re Not Using Your Fingers To Scroll This Post, Are You?
Are you actually using your fingers to scroll through this entirely too long post? Save that energy to wag your fingers at your kids when they do something wrong. Soon you will be able to use your eyes to scroll through web pages. The demo we saw of the Tobii EyeX ($95 Dev Kit) was mighty impressive. Use your eyes to scroll through web pages, zoom in on maps, select items…soon we will not have to move a muscle to surf the web.
Don’t Worry, The GrillBot is Cleaning The Grill
Cooking burgers and steaks on the grill is great! Having to clean the grill…not so great. I mean, scrubbing off all that fat could burn up to 20 calories of the 5,000 calorie meal you just grilled. No, there has to be a better way. GrillBot ($119) to the rescue. Yep, it is as great as it sounds. Put the Grillbot on your grill and the robot happily cleans your grill…and never complains about it!
Enjoy The Time In Your Second Home, AKA Your Car
Some days I feel like I spend more time in the car shuttling the kids around then I do in my own bed. While my first choice would be to turn my bed into a car, for now technology has given us these gadgets to make our car time more bearable…
Sorry Teens, But Now We Know Everything
Our home and office are connected to the internet, why not our car? Pop the Mojio ($149, pre-order) into the OnBoard Diagnostic (OBD) port on your car (this port is on all cars built after 1995) and suddenly you have a connected car. Via an app on your phone you can see exactly where your car is, how fast it is going, where it has been and more.
Mojio will allow anyone to create apps for your car, so the possibilities are endless. Stuck in traffic and going to be late to pickup the kids from school? Mojio will know your location and the fact that you are running late and automatically send a text to the school letting them know you are late. Have teens driving the car? Set a Geo-Fence in Mojio, just give it the area your teens can drive in and if they leave that area or go above a speed you set, the Mojio will send you a text. Scary and crazy stuff!
Don’t Let This Disaster Happen To You…
Imagine this nightmare. You have a minivan full of kids, hungry, wet and cranky after losing another soccer game. The only thing keeping the situation from going nuclear is your promise to drive them to the ice cream shop. Then it happens, the car battery dies. Are you doomed to complete meltdown chaos? Not if you have the PowerAll ($99). The PowerAll is the size of a smartphone, but it can jump start a car in seconds. As if that is not cool enough, it also has two 5V/2.1 Amp USB jacks so it can charge all your phones and tablets. If it could just feed the kids, it would be perfect.
Suction Cups Be Gone…
Am I the only one who has a windshield and smartphone suction cup mount that just don’t get along? Nothing like trying to navigate at night, with a car full of kids, and then your iPhone which is suction-cup mounted to the windshield falls off. The DashIt ($14.95) is an incredibly low tech solution to this annoying problem. Just put the DashIt on your dashboard and your phone stays put! No tape, no suction-cups, just a DashIt that clings to your dashboard for dear life.
Talk to Me, Talk To Me!
By now, everyone should know that looking at your phone while driving is dangerous and unnecessary. Why look when your phone can talk? With the free Capti app, you can have your phone read you pretty much anything you want. Pick an article from your favorite Dad Blog that begins with Dad and ends with Does and Capti will read it to you. Personally, I like to send myself the text “Humans are better than phones” and then have Capti read me that.
Connected Home, Everything Has Eyes and Ears Now
Need proof that the connected home revolution is coming? How about Google paying $3.2 Billion for Nest, a company that makes a smoke detector that is connected to the internet? There was no shortage of connected home gadgets at CES, here are some that parents can appreciate…
Hey Baby, Of Course We’re Watching…And Listening
I remember the old Baby Monitors. You basically could hear some strange sounds, which meant either your baby was awake or somebody turned on the microwave. The new D-Link Wi-Fi Baby Monitor ($179) shows how far things have come. HD video camera, night vision, motion and sound detection, plays lullabies, text alerts and even temperature sensors. Now you can be 3,000 miles away and know instantly if the temperature in the baby’s room drops or he does something really amazing, like roll to his left and yawn.
Keys Are Like Corded Phones…
Pretty soon using keys to enter your home will be showing your age. The new thing is locks that open with electronic keys you send to a smartphone. With the Kevo Kwikset ($219) you just need to have your phone in your pocket, then just tap the lock and the door opens. The August Smart Lock ($TBD) is another keyless lock that looks way too beautiful to be a lock. Of course with all these smartphone controlled locks you get full reports of who enters and when.
Now you may be asking what is the advantage to a lock that works with electronic keys? Let me give you one scenario. You’re away on vacation when you ask your wife, “Did you leave food for the cat?” After a few rounds of “No, I thought you did” you call your neighbor, send him an electronic key via email and he goes in and feeds the cat. You can then expire his key…until the next time you forget something and need a favor.
How Long Before Your Home Floats Up Into a Cloud???
There is a huge push to have everything in your home connected and sharing information via the cloud. iBot Connected World Kit ($199, pre-order) provides a DIY kit to create the Internet of Your Things. You get Bees, Bots and Hives. Create a setup that detects if there is motion in the yard and a window is broken, then turns on the lights and calls 911.
Home security systems are nothing new, but the Canary ($199, pre-order) may be the first smart, learning security system. The Canary can monitor your home for video, audio, motion, temperature – but it also learns your patterns. If your dog always walks through the living room between 2pm and 4pm, you don’t get an alert. However, if there is motion in the room at 2am, when there has never been motion, it knows something is up and sends you an alert.
If your home is going to be connected, that means everything…including your plants. The Meg Plant Pot ($TBD) well send you updates when your plants need water or more light or the temperature isn’t just right. That’s all fine, but if my plants want more water, they will probably have more success sending alerts to my kids, who love to soak them with a water gun!
Yeah, It Might Be Time To Get Your Own Cloud
At this point you might be getting freaked out about all your personal information being stored on the Cloud. Between the NSA and hackers, it seems like only a matter of time before that “totally secure cloud” is totally exposed. Pick up the Lenovo Beacon Personal Cloud ($199) and enjoy the benefits of the cloud, with more privacy. If you have an Android phone (iPhone coming later) the moment you come home, all your images are automatically copied to your Beacon via Wi-Fi. Store everything on the Beacon, access it anywhere – and just think how cool it will be to drop into conversations, “yeah, I own my own Cloud.”
Track and Record Everything
And now things get freaky. What is the line between being a concerned and protective parent and a crazed spy? I don’t know, but I do know now is a good time to be alive if you are a helicopter parent. With technology, you can helicopter, from 1,000 miles away. Sorry kids, hope you weren’t looking for some privacy.
Low Power Bluetooth (or Bluetooth 4.0) means that sensors can be attached to almost anything and let us know exactly where it goes. Battery life is greatly improved, with some of these sensors lasting months before they need a battery change. You have the FiLIP ($199, $10 month) a wearable phone and tracking device for kids. TRAX ($199) a GPS tracker for children and pets. TrackR ($29.95) is a tracking device for anything – attach it to your phone, wallet, glasses, beer, sandwich and if it goes missing just use the app to track it down.
You didn’t think your pooch would escape the tracking revolution, did you? Strap a Voyce ($TBD) to your hound and give your dog a voice. Learn from his play pattens, heart rate, sleep habits and more. In no time, you and your dog will be deep in discussion on whether Goofy is really a dog.
We have saved maybe the freakiest track and record gadget for last – LifeLogger ($TBD). LifeLogger is perfectly named, it is a small camera, that you wear like a bluetooth headset and it records everything you see. You then upload your life to the Cloud where your video is analyzed for face, video , sound, geo-location and text recognition.
The interface is the amazing part. Remember, on the backend LifeLogger servers are analyzing my video for things like signs in the background, faces, audio – all so it is searchable by the interface. Let’s say I remember my wife was telling me gift ideas as we walked by Shake Shack some time in December. Of course, for the life of me I can’t remember what she was asking for. With LifeLogger I just tell it to find all video and audio, in December, when I was with my wife and walking by Shake Shack…and in seconds, the video and audio of that part of my life comes up. Augmented Memory, what parent doesn’t need that!
Practical, Cool Gadgets You Will Want
Finally, there were some just some gadgets we saw at CES that made us say, “Cool, I could use that!” As Moms and Dads, we need to be practical – but we still love the cool. Take a look…
Tired of being left out of all the home movies? AIMe by Jigabot ($TBD) is a device that connects between your camera and a tripod. Simply hold a small beacon and your camera will follow you as you move around.
At first thought, the idea of iSketchNote ($TBD), an iPad case that has a notepad and pen may not make sense. However, once you learn that anything you sketch, draw or write on the pad, instantly appears on the iPad – you realize that the iSketchNote magically expands the screen of the iPad to the notepad.
Ever hand your phone to your kids and when you get it back it looks like a petri dish for every known bacteria? You might want to get your hands on the NueVue Case ($TBD).
It might look like a standard iPhone case, but it is specially coated with BioCote Technology so every time you drop your phone into the case, the Anti-microbial protection eliminates 99% of bacteria on your phone’s screen.
Finally, if you own an Android phone, the Pressy ($27, pre-order) is one of those things you never knew you needed, but once you get, you won’t be able to live without it.
The Pressy is a tiny programmable button that you stick in the headphone jack of your Android phone. Based on how you press the Pressy, you can program different apps to open. Maybe one click will open your camera, two clicks opens your GPS app, with your home address pre-selected, a short and a long click and your Calendar opens. Simple, elegant and a huge time saver…which us busy parents need!
What About The Toys, Robots and Drones?
Oh yeah, we did not forget about the toys for kids! Click here to read the Top 9 Toys for Kids from CES 2014. For now, this should give you enough to keep you busy with gadgets until they all become obsolete when CES 2015 roles around!