Consumer Technology

15 Cool Products for Families For 2019

February 12, 2019
Proov Test Strips MFB Fertility

Best Mom Invention: MFB Fertility Proov

Amy Beckley, a doctor of pharmacology, struggled with fertility for more than three years. Ovulation tests told her when she was likely to conceive but retaining the fertilized egg was another story. Her hunch was that she had low progesterone, but her doctor said there was no way to measure that without her coming into his office every cycle. She decided to move forward with IVF instead. 

Anyone who has gone down that road knows how expensive and life-altering it is, full of medical interventions and unwanted mood changes. Though Beckley gave birth to the baby of her dreams, she never wanted IVF again!

Acting on her own hunch (and doctorate degree!) she began treating herself with progesterone supplements to get pregnant with number two. Success! After that baby was born, Beckley set out to invent an at-home progesterone test.

Now women hoping to conceive can use an ovulation test followed by Proov (also a urine-based test) to be sure they have the progesterone level to sustain a pregnancy. If they consistently find themselves low, they can talk to their doctor about supplements.

BlueSmart Mia 2 Intelligent Baby Feeding Monitor

Best Baby Tech: BlueSmart Mia2

The short story is that this device keeps track of how much your baby drinks from bottles. The longer story is about how it keeps you connected and in the loop with your baby in real time.

It’s one thing to have a daycare, grandma, or your sitter tell you at the end of the day that your baby drank 20 ounces. It’s another to have the BlueSmart Mia app show each time the bottle is picked up and turned over, and even what temperature the milk is when your baby drinks. That’s valuable information when you’re trying to keep a consistent routine. It also helps you prepare for each day; if you’re pumping, you don’t want to hand over more liquid gold than your baby can realistically drink!

The Mia 2 works with most bottles, wide to standard. And with the app you can log diaper and sleep reports, pumping sessions, and more to get a full picture of your baby’s feeding habits to share with your pediatrician.

Learning Resources Coding Critters Dog Set

Best Preschool Toy: Learning Resources Coding Critters

The company that created Botley has a new cute, screen-free way to get young kids fooling around with coding concepts. Kids hit the directional buttons atop a critter (cat, dog, or dino) then the go button in order to get the big animal to link up with the little one. If their directions are a little off no worries, they can try again!

Kids can use the storybook and accessories for coding challenges or they can just free play, seeing if they can code the critter around the table and right back into its house.

Sphero Specdrums Music Toy

Best School-Age Toy: Sphero Specdrums

A flat rainbow-colored strip is your kid’s kit and a thumb ring is her stick with this music toy. It works with its own app, called Specdrums Mix, but also other music-making apps such as GarageBand. Kids can even use the thumb ring to turn regular household objects (or parts of the body) into “drums” because what the ring is really detecting are taps and gestures, so kids can teach it to read practically anything. The sound quality is amazing, as is the portability and ease of storage.

Ages 5+, $65 for a one-ring kit, $100 for a two-ring kit.

Hack Laptop

Best First Laptop: Hack Laptop

When your kid (8+) needs a laptop you mostly want one that is robust and affordable. The Hack meets both criteria but goes further, giving kids the amazing ability to easily enter the backend of the computer and recode a page’s appearance. The technology is made kid-friendly, so, for instance, a sliding bar will make images bigger or smaller. But if your child shows real curiosity for how it all works, it’s also possible for her to see and learn the real JavaScript.

What’s great is that it’s also, obviously, a regular 14-inch ASUS laptop, not a toy, so it’s perfect for all your kids’ real-world homework needs. Even if she never takes to coding, this laptop will get use!

$299 plus $10/month for updates.

IHome Zenergy Himalayan Salt Lamp

Best Wellbeing Tech: IHome

Jump on the salt-therapy bandwagon with zero apologies! Especially if it helps you reach that Holy Grail of parenthood, sleep.

The iHome Zenergy Himalayan Salt Lamp is, in fact, a hunk of Himalayan salt, which releases positive ions in the air. The pleasing pink mineral is lit up on a dimmer switch and can be set to darken as night sets in and brighten with the morning. It sits atop a sound machine with 8 different soothers to choose from. And to top it off, a voice can guide you through a breathing meditation to help you wind down.

Soma SOMAINNOFIT Bra Intimates Line

Best Fashion Tech: SOMAINNOFIT

Can we talk #momboobs? They change and change and then change some more, and who has time to go get a proper bra fitting with a baby or kid in tow?

Soma, the intimates line by the same company that owns Chico and White House Black Market, has a $25 smart bra that lets you measure yourself at home. There’s no measuring tape required, you just wear the SOMAINNOFIT bra and connect it via Bluetooth to the matching app. It reads your size and then recommends bras that will fit.

BTW you get the $25 cost back: When you size your ladies with the SOMAINNOFIT and then buy a bra through the app, they take $25 off that first purchase. What’s kind of fascinating is that you’ll see your recommended size will vary by bra, proof that you’re not the same across all styles, just as we’ve always suspected!

Lenovo Smart Clock with Google Assist

Best Home Assistant: Lenovo Smart Clock with Google Assist

Seems to us that, as parents, the logical place we’d most use Google Assistant is bedside, going to sleep or waking up. Lenovo’s Smart Clock has Google Assistant built in, so as you ready for bed you can go ahead and ask it for tomorrow’ temperature and set your alarm (assuming your kid is not your alarm!), plus check your calendar for the next day. When you wake, ask it what traffic is like while you go ahead and do other things with your hands, like pull on your clothes so you can get to making breakfast.

The Smart Clock has a USB port in the back to charge your phone and can begin to glow in the morning as your alarm approaches, giving you a gentle wake-up.

$80; out Spring 2019.

LynQ Tracking Device

Best Kid Safety: LynQ

Clip-on LynQ units don’t require cell service or WiFi, so when you go anywhere with your kid, you can keep track of him just by clipping one to him and keeping another on yourself. Directions on the device can lead you right to each other anywhere within a 3-mile radius. It gives you peace of mind at theme parks or water parks, concerts or festivals—no more “where did he go?!”

It’s also weatherproof. You can buy and link up other units— 12 all together—and save your phone battery and your sanity if you have a big group visiting an event together. (A multi-generational trip through Disney World comes to mind!)

$309 for a three-unit set, out in June 2019.

First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound with Wi-Fi Mesh

Best Home Safety: First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound with Wi-Fi Mesh

This update to the Onelink Safe & Sound Alarm System will also embed the smoke and carbon monoxide detector with what becomes your home’s WiFi network.

Daily, that means you can use this First Alert device to set a curfew on WiFi (no gaming after 11pm!) and use it as your Alexa, turning on or off music or asking the weather. (Yes, talking to your smoke detector is now a thing, and then you don’t need an Alexa device taking up counterspace!)

But if there’s an emergency, like a smoke situation, this Mesh device will light up every WiFi-connected device in the house with an emergency screen.

Brava Oven Cooking Tech

Best Cooking Tech: Brava Oven

By cooking with infrared light, this oven can heat up to 500 degrees not in minutes, but in one second flat. It cooks fast— a steak in 8 minutes—for tasty dinners that are done in often half the time of a regular oven.

It’s a small countertop unit, so it’s not going to handle the Thanksgiving turkey, but it easily takes care of regular dinners and the stuff you heat every day, from frozen pizzas to salmon steaks to yes, chocolate-chip cookies. Its size, rather than a hindrance, makes it feel as easy as a toaster oven to use.

Finally, it’s got zones and sensors that let you put, say, chicken and vegetables in there and cook them each at a different temperature but at the same time and on the same tray. Mind blown.

Whirlpool Smart All-in-One Washer & Dryer

Best Household Tech: Whirlpool Smart All-in-One Washer & Dryer

It’s taken a long time, but it’s finally possible to have one machine that can wash and then dry your clothes all in the same drum. Hooray! Get a load started before you head out in the morning and know it will be done and ready to be folded when you come home. A full cycle takes about 4 and a half hours for an 8- to 16-pound load.

Also to love, if you live in a small space: The All-in-One is 24 inches across and ventless, so you only need a plumbing hookup to get it going. And one more thing! Empty your detergent bottle into the dispenser and each load will just take what it needs, saving you a step as well as detergent-bottle storage.

Samsung Family Hub with Family Board Refrigerator

Best Kitchen Update: Samsung Family Hub with Family Board Refrigerator

Top brass at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) declared 2019 the “year of the smart home appliance” and that certainly seems to be true! This update to Samsung’s Family Hub Refrigerator includes a smart bulletin board where you can creatively display photos and notes. In fact, you could snap a picture at your kid’s school performance and, through the app, have it displayed on the fridge before you even get home!

That’s the creative side of this refrigerator; on the more practical side, a camera inside lets you spy on what’s in there from the app. That means you can be at the store and check the cam to see if you need milk or eggs!

The smart board also works with voice commands, so you won’t be completely crazy if you stand in front of the fridge and say, “show me recipes for mac and cheese.” 

Neutrogena MaskID

Best Personalization: Neutrogena MaskID

Neutrogena aims to make your facial masks totally unique to you by scanning your skin and then creating custom masks via 3D printing.

To take advantage of the service you first need to purchase Neutrogena’s Skin360, a scanner that attaches to your phone camera. It’s out now, for $60, and currently, when paired with the Neutrogena Skin360 app, gives you feedback on your skin’s condition and suggests products (users get 25 percent off products purchased).

By fall 2019 Neutrogena aims to have MaskIDs added to those possible products. To get one, you use the scanner to take a selfie and map your face shape. Then you answer a survey about your trouble spots and what you’d like to treat. For instance, you might say you want to tackle forehead wrinkles and redness in your cheeks – that feedback will get you a mask with two different ingredients, each where you need it. And because the mask will be cut to fit your face size and shape, it’s unique to you.

Olay Opte Beauty Tech Tiny Printer Applies Foundation

Best Beauty Tech: Olay Opté

Currently you have to put foundation all over your face if you want an even look that hides blemishes. But Olay Opté, a beauty wand which works with serious scanning technology, carefully places micro amounts of coverage only on your spots, giving you the most remarkable natural-but-even look ever.

There’s a digital camera in the little wand that takes hundreds of photos per second of your skin as you move the wand over it. Then the device works with tens of thousands of lines of code to decide how much coverage is needed. Mineral pigment is applied in micro amounts by what is really tiny printer. 

The product has spent 10 years in development and still isn’t out yet, but it’s close! Hopefully you can buy it and its refills by Christmastime.

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