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Friday fun for the IT crowd: The Internet of babies

September 12, 2014

MIT’s unusual hackathon

If you’re freaked out by nursing stories … well, you can skip this blurb (but also should also probably grow up a bit). The world’s health organizations are unified in their praise for breastfeeding because of the strong nutritional benefits it conveys to babies. Mothers, on the other hand, have more mixed feelings. Nursing is difficult to learn and frequently painful, but for most working mothers, pumping milk at work is the most dreaded chore. It’s loud, physically awkward, inconvenient and, frankly, embarrassing. MIT is trying to change that with a “Make the Breastpump Not Suck!” hackathon. The famed university has called on lactation consultants, parents, researchers, manufacturers and engineers/developers to invent a better breastpump. Now if only they figure out a way to squelch the funny looks and juvenile jokes from coworkers …

For the toddler who has everything

Toilet training toddlers isn’t easy, partly because they’re just too busy to sit around all day on a kiddie toilet. Perhaps making room for their iPad will help? At least a few tech-addicted folks have given this idea a try with CTA Digital’s iPotty, which conveniently comes with a digital iPad stand so your privileged tyke can stay connected while in the bathroom. You’ll just have to look at the picture and decide for yourself whether the world needs this seat. While the product is not a joke, some of the Amazon reviews are pretty entertaining.

The Internet of babies

They say desperation leads to gullibility. And most new parents certainly qualify as desperate. Newborns are, to many parents, incomprehensible bundles of needs. Babies behave unpredictably and refuse to tell you what’s wrong with them, how long they plan to nap, and how the heck you can make them sleep longer. The Sproutling smart baby monitor promises to change that (in much the same way snake oil salesmen promise miracle cures). A baby anklet tracks vital signs like movement and heart rate, and is aided by an in-room monitor that collects information like humidity levels and noise that play a part in babies’ behavior. Then an app translates that data into usable information, like how long a baby will sleep based on past behavior and transmits it back to parents. 

While the rational side of me is skeptical the Sproutling can truly revolutionize baby rearing, the desperate/gullible part finds hope in the fact that several Google and Apple alumni are working to create this product, which is available for preorder and will start shipping in early 2015.

Want to learn read more about how technology can improve your life and maybe even make your commute easier? Read our recent post, Friday fun for the IT crowd: Labor Day traffic edition.

Lisa Dare is a marketing writer for TEKsystems who enjoys learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in tech (seriously, these folks are scary-smart). Lisa frequently blogs about IT career advice and the lighter side of tech.

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