is the Strip District-based tech company focused
on creating innovative baby products. Their latest
product is the RockaRoo, a redesigned baby swing.
before the dawn of the pacifier, parents of newborns and
toddlers found ways to use surrounding resources to help
soothe and distract tots into precious moments of peace.
today’s smartphone era, a proliferation of
applications, video monitors, robotic strollers and
other technologies have cropped up to create an industry
built around the notion of helping parents with the push
of a button.
to pinpoint a cause for the fussy tears? Ontario-based
Biloop Technology’s Cry Translator analyzes distinct
cries to determine if a baby is sleepy, stressed,
hungry, annoyed or bored.
to push a toddler toward early literacy? Brigham Young
University’s Hideout: Early Reading iPhone and iPad
app is one of thousands of options designed to teach
preschool-age kids to read through techniques such as
letter-sound association and word repetition.
if repeated efforts to install a car seat were correct?
This year, Pittsburgh-based company 4moms is expected to
launch the world’s first fully robotic car seat to do
car seat — like the newly released motion-sensing
4moms rockaRoo Infant Swing and the self-folding 4moms
Origami Power Stroller — is expected to catch on
quickly, at least with an established tech-savvy
customer base that includes actress Natalie Portman.
with prices plunging for motion sensors, accelerometers
and other tools vital to advanced robotics, Henry
Thorne, 4moms chief technical officer, said he wouldn’t
be surprised to see the market grow in coming years.
is a new toolbox of incredibly low-cost micro-controls
available that wasn’t there before," he said.
Daley, CEO of 4moms, said lowering the barriers to
creating new technologies doesn’t mean all new
juvenile products will be necessary or even helpful. The
company decided to make a robotic car seat thanks to
feedback from parents and statistics showing that 7 in
10 car seats are installed improperly, and he said any
technologies coming out of 4moms will be in direct
response to consumer need.
for technology’s sake is not something we
pursue," Daley said.
it comes to early learning apps and digital technologies
for toddlers and children, the subject shifts from
questions of the necessity to questions of harm related
to increased screen time.
American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media and
screen time for children younger than 2 years and
limiting screen time to two hours per day for older
children, a stand supported in January 2012 through a
joint position statement from the National Association
for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers
Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media.
the statement also allowed for some leeway in the matter
because of conflicting research around the impact of
screen time, the availability of digital educational
material and a new relationship between young children
and touch-screen technologies.
Fred Rogers Center’s Early Learning Environment (Ele)
program is an online database of early learning
resources designed for children "from birth to age
5." The Ele site said it encourages caregivers to
treat digital media "more like they would treat a
caregivers must be sure that any exposure to technology
and media is very limited, that it is used for
exploration and includes shared joint attention and
language-rich interactions, and that it does not reduce
the opportunities for tuned-in and attentive
interactions between the child and the caregiver,"
reads a portion of the statement.
the Pittsburgh-based community organization Kingsley
Association, the Baby Promise program is in its third
year of putting the study’s assessments into action.
instructional visits to parents of children newborn up
to 3 years old, the program uses iPhone smartphone app
"Bubble Popper" by Los Angeles-based MobTouch,
DHX Media’s Yo Gabba Gabba "Lets Glow
Dancing" app, and simple drawing apps to help
children as young as 9 months become acquainted with
Hill, director of Kingsley’s East Liberty Family
Support Center, said she would discourage screen time
for children younger than 10 months to 1 year. But, she
said, seeing parents regularly handing off smartphones
as distractions made her want to help steer them away
from "Candy Crush" toward more educational
STORY CAN END HERE)
2011, Kingsley Association won a $50,000 grant from the
Sprout Fund to create the program, hire staff, and
purchase tablets, e-readers and other technologies.
Promise, which was intentionally named to play off of
the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program, works with
106 families and supports children up to age 6 through a
summer day camp and offers in-center programs for
children up to age 7.
center works with low-income families, so we were
thinking, ‘How do you use technology to get kids ready
for school, get them ready to learn?’ Baby Promise is
(unofficially) linked with the Pittsburgh Promise
because it’s a part of early learning," Hill
with the possible benefits of early learning apps,
parents should "weigh on the side of caution"
when it comes to depending on technology, said Susan
Newman, social psychologist and author of "Little
Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel
Special Every Day."
applauded 4moms and other juvenile product makers for
robotics items that provided practical solutions, but
said many digital apps offer interactions that could be
done just as easily, and often better, between parent
having some kind of device tell a child what to do, they
could become very dependent, and they don’t have to
learn to amuse themselves and be creative when
everything is being put out there in front of their
face. The best developmental tools are peers and family
interaction," she said.
admitted the sector can only offer a slight hand in the
hands-on activity that is parenting.
don’t see R2-D2 stepping up and changing anybody’s
diaper," he said.