Children are the sunshine of our lives, but let’s face it: sometimes we parents feel so absorbed by our never-ending child-rearing duties that we forger we, too, are human.
But we’re at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas now, where cool stuff stares at you from every direction. So today, we roamed the showroom floor in search of gadgets specifically designed to make a parent’s life easier – or at least more fun. Here’s what we found:
1. Eye-Fi memory card
Available: online, at Target, Best Buy and Office Depot stores nationwide
Cost: $49.99 to $149.99, depending on memory size
Imagine snapping pictures of the kids at a birthday party or school play, tossing the camera in your purse – and as soon as you pull into your driveway back home, the pictures automatically upload to your computer. By the time you get to the computer screen, they’re ready to send to grandma. No need to plug the memory card into the computer or look for that darndest cable. That’s all possible with Eye-Fi memory cards, which look like any old memory card that stores your pictures and video, but do much more: they automatically upload them to your computer whenever you are in range of your home wireless network. Even more pressed for time? You can customize the card to instantly upload the pictures to Facebook, Flickr, or any other photo-sharing site you use. You also have full access to all of your photos and videos from any computer or mobile device with Eye-Fi View, a recently launched free service.
2. Crayola ColorStudio™ HD iPad App with iMarker
Available: Spring 2011
Say goodbye to half-eaten crayons and “artfully decorated” furniture with this gadget that is bound to win over mommy’s heart even before it does toddler’s. All you need is an iPad and the $29.99 iMarker (a metallic silver electronic “crayon”), and your kids can color away for hours on end with no risk whatsoever to your walls or furniture. The scribbles of the iMarker are impressively crayon-like on the iPad screen, which only responds to the pressure of the stylus, not your child’s fingers or hand. The app includes a built-in library of art, including more than 50 game and activity pages, and will be regularly updated with new activities.
3. Looxcie wearable camcorder
Available: at Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com and NeimanMarcus.com
It’s pricey, but consider the possibilities: that tiny little camera that looks and feels exactly like a wireless hands-free device can record up to five hours of continuous video and connects to iPhone and Android phones via Bluetooth for instant sharing. You could stream “see what I see” videos of your toddler’s first steps or record your baby’s giggles as you make behind-the-camera faces at her. (Heck, you can even make a video while washing the dishes.) No more scrambling for the camera or smartphone to commit to memory those precious moments.
Available: Currently sold out, sign up here to receive an email when more games are available
Remember the blocks you played as a kid? It may be hard to sell your little one on old-fashioned board games these days, but this new game system’s blend of traditional and electronic features might just do the trick. The pack’s three cubes feature a full color LCD, 3D motion sensor and wireless connectivity to your computer, so you can choose from all kinds of games, including puzzles, action-adventure and word and math games. Most appreciated by kids in elementary school and up – and even moms and dads themselves.
5. Neer app
Available: for Android 2.0+ and iPhone 4
Want to know where your spouse or child is without having to rely on their FourSquare or Gowalla check-ins or implanting a GPS in the back of their necks? This app very tastefully enables you to automatically share your whereabouts with family and other chosen ones, without the Big-Brother feel of disclosing a specific address or shouting out your whereabouts to the whole Twitterverse. Simply download the app to your iPhone or Android device, define the locations that you’d like to share (home, school, work, mall), and as you go to that location Neer will automatically share it with the people you choose. And vice versa – you will know when your spouse is dropping off the kids at daycare, or when your teenager has gone to the mall right after school. Best of all, it’s free: try it and if you hate it, at least you won’t kick yourself for wasting your hard-earned money.