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Woah, baby! Unusual gadgets for tech-savvy parents

Baby tech is a burgeoning industry that beckons smartphone-toting parents to engage with gadgets. The latest crop of technology can bring moms and dads closer to their kids by counting words, helping to monitor sleeping infants, and even rocking them to sleep with the calming movements of a car (no actual car required).

Check out these out-of-the-ordinary devices to see how companies are going gaga over baby gadgets.

Smart Sock 2 by Owlet

Baby monitoring moved up to a new level with the introduction of the Owlet Smart Sock, a foot-worn device that tracks a baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels while he or she sleeps, and then sends that information to an app.

The system consists of a sock-like wrap fitted with a sensor and a Bluetooth-equipped base station that collects the data and sends it to the app. The app will alert you if your baby’s heart rate or oxygen levels fall outside of pre-set parameters.

Owlet is meant to be used during nap times and at night when the baby is sleeping. The company specifies that “Owlet is intended to provide peace of mind. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.” The Owlet app is available for iOS. There is also a beta version for Android, but the app is still in development.

The biggest complaint about the first generation of the smart sock is that it had a tendency to fall off. The $300 Smart Sock 2 addresses this shortcoming with a redesign that stays in place better and can be used on either foot. The adjustable fabric wrap accommodates a baby’s growth spurts. Gadget-loving parents will like the smart sock, but keep in mind there are also much more affordable, though less high-tech, baby monitors available for keeping an eye on your kid while he or she sleeps.

Watch the video below to see how it works and click here to buy it from Amazon.com.

Ford’s MAX Motor Dreams crib

It’s a classic parent trick for when an infant won’t sleep: take the tyke on a soothing car ride. Ford Spain decided to re-create the relaxing feel of a drive without requiring a vehicle, so they developed a prototype smart crib. The crib mimics the sounds and movements of a car. A speaker on the underside emits a low-level engine-noise soundscape and the surface of the crib moves gently like a car would around smooth corners.

Ford’s crib also includes strips of LED lights meant to simulate the calming glow of streetlights. The crib features a modern design with wood accents reminiscent of the classic Ford “woodie” station wagons.

Ford worked with an app that connects to a car and monitors a real drive so it can then reproduce the experience of taking a specific route. A Ford video delves into the process of making the crib and uses a drive to grandma’s house as an example of a route that could be recorded and then “played back” by the crib.

The crib is just a prototype, but Ford is willing to entertain the idea of putting it into production. It could be a welcome piece of baby tech for parents struggling to get their little ones to fall asleep. Watch the video below to see how it works.

Starling by VersaMe

Babies are born ready to learn. Talking to them is an important factor in the development of their language skills. Starling from VersaMe is a clip-on Bluetooth-connected gadget that attaches to a child’s clothes and counts the number of words spoken to the baby. It’s designed for kids ranging from infants up to 4 years of age. An iOS app tracks the word count and offers suggestions for ways to meet or top your word goals. VersaMe is also developing an Android app.

Starling counts words, but it doesn’t record them for privacy reasons. You might wonder why parents would want a word counter. It’s not for everyone, but new parents have a lot to deal with, so the gadget is designed to motivate and remind them to talk to their babies. It can be an eye-opener to see just how many words are spoken to a child in a day. If you’re running short of your goal, you can focus on adding an extra storytime or talking to your tyke more during playtime.

Watch the video below to see how it works and click here to buy it from Amazon.com for $149.16.

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