4moms MamaRoo

“If you’re a parent whose kid already grew out of infanthood, read on with jealousy.”

In an article for Fast Company, NEXTpittsburgh Biz + Tech Editor Deb Smit presents a new product line coming out from 4moms, the Pittsburgh company making life a bit easier for new mothers– and now, a bit more robotically engineered.

She answers the inevitable question: What can robotics do for babies that the real moms can’t?

“4moms products involve both mechatronics–that react to their users–and robotics, that take actions on their own. Introducing this electronic gadgetry to the baby crowd involves changing the perception that parents–some less tech inclined–have of robotic products,” says Smit.

Consider the Origami, a power-folding stroller that sells for $850, which the company points to as the pinnacle of its engineering. Push a button and it folds itself up. The battery charges as you stroll, powering nighttime running lights, a phone charger, an LCD monitor with an odometer and speedometer–in case speed becomes an issue–and a manual override, if you happen to be observing Shabbat. A lighter and less expensive version will be out soon, the Origami Go, at 16 pounds with the same one-touch button operation.”

The new line, along with the Origami, includes a car seat that installs itself and autonomously checks its surroundings for safety, as well as a seat that mimics the natural movements of a real-live parent.

The mamaRoo was designed by placing accelerometers on moms to measure their sway. It comes in five motions, including a car-ride mode, and has built-in nature sounds,” says Smit.

Of course, these conveniences don’t come cheap. Much of the publicity that 4moms products have received is due to the people seen touting them– celebrity parents such as Natalie Portman, Dax Shepard and the Kardashians. 4moms investors, however, are circling the idea of cheaper, more accessible robotics. Even with high prices, 4moms sales have doubled in each of the last four years.

$30 million in sales in 2013? How have we been raising babies without robotics?

Read the full article here.

Rebekah Zook is a Duquesne grad and all-around story-telling enthusiast. A former fellow at WESA, she worked as a production assistant for their daily talk show. Most recently, she taught in the Propel Charter School system as a visiting artist. When she isn’t writing, Rebekah is a trip leader for the local non-profit organization Venture Outdoors. You can usually find her in a bright yellow kayak.