CES 2017, a global consumer tech tradeshow that takes place in Las Vegas every winter, premiered a series of high-tech tools that promise to replicate the womb in the most sterile, impersonal and incredibly expensive ways.
You’ve got bassinets with built-in swaddlers, white noise and auto-rock functions; co-sleepers that send notifications to your phone in case of diaper leaks and gently “prod” your baby “if no breathing is detected.” That’s right, someone’s made a sleeping device that pokes your newborn. How many tech geeks are going to wind up permanently sleepless because of a middle of the night malfunction? Creepy.
Parents looking for the ultimate science fiction-esque device will love the Aristotle by Nabi. Billed as “the only smart baby monitor that comforts, teaches and entertains,” Aristotle is a tower device similar to Amazon’s Alexa that will play lullabies to your newborn and remain a constant companion through their formative years. It’s even equipped with enough staying power to give homework advice in middle school. Moms and dads can also use this electronic butler, too, to listen to music or order things online.
With what is perhaps the most practical application of technology, 4moms, the company that brought you the self-installing car seat last year, has introduced a stroller with self-charging headlights for those colicky late-night walks. Of course, the same kinesthetic motion that charges the headlights can also charge your phone so you can surf social media or listen to music to both stay awake and drown out the sound of your cranky newborn.
The devices offering the most interpersonal parenting experience are a variety of breast pumps promising a more accurate simulation of the nursing experience (if a machine sucking at your boob can possibly do such a thing). Have no fear, they’re all Wi-Fi enabled so you can track your milk production via app.
Perhaps the dumbest piece of equipment on the list is the TytoHome, a digital diagnostic tool that allows parents to “take initial readings of things like throat, ears, stomach and lungs at home, and then have immediate access to medical advice.” Because who doesn’t want to play doctor at 2 a.m. only to hear, “Call your pediatrician,” via digital device?
Every single piece of technology featured at the conference had one thing in common: They are designed to create less contact between parent and child, not more. I’m no attachment mother, but your newborn wants to be cuddled by you, not a machine. (Save the in-chair massage for mom or dad at Brookstone.) Your middle-schooler, angst-ridden tween or not, would rather get homework advice from you than a faceless electronic butler they’ve known as “the creepy voice from the tower” since they were in preschool. You don’t need to watch Her to realize that kids with tech addictions are already developing unhealthy relationships with avatars. What better way to ensure your child will never be able to develop healthy bonds with other humans than by having them massaged by in-bassinet prods and surrounding them with an electronic butler from birth? Creepy.