Category Archives: Tech

School Run Newbie Prince William could have taken a better route…

Following Prince William’s comment that he had a ‘stressful school run’ on Prince George’s first day at school, real-time, crowd-sourced, navigation app, Waze have analysed his daily journey to see if they can save him some time in traffic in the morning.

Finlay Clark, head of Waze UK comments:

“It’s only a 3 mile, 20-25 min trip, but traffic is significantly congested. The routes most sat navs will take you is down Gloucestershire Road, followed by a right on Fulham Road then left on Beaufort Street and continue over Battersea Bridge. But the quickest route will depend on live traffic data, which this morning would mean going down the adjacent Queen’s Gate, then cutting down Old Church Street, along Elm Park Road, down the Vale and then joining Beaufort Street from King’s Road.

With Fulham Road partially closed, only operating one way for gas main repairs, the route is heavily congested, so best to try and use Waze to get the best route for any given moment.”

The Duke of Cambridge isn’t alone when it comes to school run stress. Research by the free app, reveals one in eight parents (13%) said that the school run is the most stressful time of the day with over half (53%) getting stuck in traffic up to three times a week. This equates to eight minutes a day which adds up to over one day (26 hours) sitting traffic over a school year*. With the average school run timed at almost 20 minutes, sitting in traffic represents over 40% of the daily journey.

As the school commutes kick back in, the sat nav app will see weekly registrations grow by 100% month on month from August to September as people seek ways to avoid the traffic.

Finlay Clark adds:

“The Prince has experienced what millions of people experience every day as we see the relative quiet on summer roads instantly revert to the usual snarl of school run traffic. The good news is that we know from millions of users’ live updates how to avoid the worst of the queues – for both parents on the school run and commuters alike. We recommend the Prince downloads the UK’s fastest growing navigation app to find the quickest route on the school run. Given time, if he accumulates enough points, he can become Waze royalty”.

(guest post)

Never forget the kids’ school bags if you drive a Landrover Discovery Sport

The latest Landrover Discovery Sport comes with a nifty thing called InControl, which is a Tile Bluetooth app allowing you to do that ‘idiot check’ you normally do out loud (phone, purse, keys, kids’ lunchboxes, swimming kit etc) via your dashboard. And better still, if you’ve forgotten something, the app can locate it.

Land Rover Discovery Sport found that 64% of us spend over 15 minutes per day looking for stuff (yep!) and that 24% of parents say their mobile phone is the most annoying item to forget for car journeys.

The survey also asked parents what they would do with 15 minutes extra free time. It seems overwhelmingly parents would choose something for their own peace of mind and well being with 27% saying they would sleep or read. However it seems parents with slightly larger families would opt for keeping themselves busy over personal time with 23% saying they would do housework or shopping with a spare 15 minutes.

When it comes to Adventure it seems the UK’s parents are also keen to explore the great outdoors and try to keep active with only 2% of UK parents saying they were not fond of the outdoors. Camping and Cycling are the two activities it seems parents are keen to enjoy with their kids as 34% said camping would be enjoyed the most followed by cycling a close second with 27% proving the thirst for nature and adventure is truly in our DNA.

However, it is probably of little surprise to learn that the most common journey type with 43% of parents agreeing is the stop start urban crawl. It seems the UK’s busy roads play heavily on drivers minds with over 22% saying they wished their current car was more economical and 28% wanting more space or better in car tech.

Jeremy Hicks, Managing Director Jaguar Land Rover UK said,  “Losing your wallet or leaving your child’s sports kit behind isn’t just an inconvenience. The realisation you’ve mislaid something important can be a cause of distraction. Our unique partnership with Tile means customers can check the status of tagged items using Discovery Sport’s touchscreen, so forgotten items will be a thing of the past.”

 

SM tests…the Mio MiVue 688 Dashcam

If you’ve recently discovered the dashcam concept, you’ll be aware of one thing: you really need a dashcam! From improving your insurance costs to generally making you a safer driver, it’s a clever little box that is not just for auto geeks and Jeremy Clarkson.

We tested the Mio MiVue 688 – RRP £114

SM tester writes: OK, I thought, I’m way more aware of myself behind the wheel now than I was when I was 19. As my husband says, having three kids in the car takes all the fun out of driving… In the *touch wood* event of an accident I would be mortified if it were my fault…

Driving up to Yorkshire on Boxing Day, in near standstill traffic on the M11, a white Toyota Yaris pulled in front of me from the inside lane without warning or signal. The passenger was asleep, complete with a duvet and pillow and the driver was wearing pyjamas. How do I remember this? I don’t really – I remember braking sharply – but the rest I know because I have it on film. 

No one was hurt – nothing was damaged… But if it had been, I would have all the evidence in a police/insurance and (heaven forbid) ambulance friendly playback device. My car’s own black box. 

There are other perks that – on a day to day level – are more positive. The alerts telling you when there are speed cameras, for starters. Or those telling you when you are drifting out of lane (although this does go off when you overtake) and the one that tells you if you are too close to a car in front (although again, this does go off randomly sometimes when City driving). 

If you happen to be an off-roader, the dashcam is the ultimate gloating tool; you can upload the footage of your adventurous drive straight to Facebook or your blog. 

The dashcam sits in the windscreen and if you leave it on when parked you’ll have a record of anyone tailgating you, or trying to force entry to your car. Or – foxes sleeping on the bonnet… 

 

Hidemyass.com come up with a genius way to prolong the magic of Santa

Despite having the kind of name you don’t really want coming up in your browsing history, Hidemyass.com have created an awesome plugin which protects your laptop (or your little ones’ tablets) from any pesky rumours about Father Christmas being fictitious.

When your inquisitive child tries to google such scurrilous lies they will be met with a smiling face of Santa working away at his North Pole home…

Join the Tablet Debate – and donate to UNICEF

Should you let your child use a tablet?

A new research project, aimed at discovering the influence technology has on children’s learning, social interactions and play, from birth to 47 months, is being launched today.

Dr Elena Hoicka, and PhD students Stephanie Powell and Burcu Soy, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology, are looking to discover whether technology, such as tablets, is good for children’s development, bad, or a bit of both.

Parents across the world are invited to participate in the study by completing a survey at babylovesscience.com and repeating the survey six months later.

The survey asks questions about how long children use different types of technology – such as a tablet or a television – the previous day.

It also asks questions about how children prefer to learn, what children understand about other people, and whether and how children engage in pretend play. It only takes around 20-30 minutes to register and complete the survey.

Parents of children with low activities levels, such as newborns, are also invited to participate, as the researchers are interested in how technology impacts children right from the beginning.

At the end of the survey, parents will receive a summary of their child’s learning style, social understanding, and play.

Importantly, parents will be invited to repeat the survey six months later, which allows researchers to determine whether technology has an impact or not.

For every parent who completes the survey twice, six months apart, £2 will be donated to UNICEF.

Hello Brands, it’s me, Slick Mummy…

logo-jpgI first started Slick Mummy when my second child was born. I was becoming increasingly aware (whenever I googled a baby product or parenting concern) that there was quite a lot of negative or downbeat content online when it came to chatrooms, forums and blogs. I didn’t just want to be ‘another Mummy blogger’, I wanted to celebrate parenting; embrace wonderful products, interview experts and entrepreneurs and forge relationships with fantastic brands.
img_20160929_181327_editAs a mother of three now, I’m definitely not a techie. I have a vintage Blackberry; my other half won’t let me touch his iPhone *lest I break it* and my two-year-old can work the Tivo box better than I can… But having worked in PR, Marketing and Journalism for 15 years the writing part came easily and my vision was strong. But how to earn from the situation? Well, I was no sassy Zoella.
At the offset – and with a little bit of self-marketing – I did start to get approached by PR’s. #PRFriendly was the hashtag du jour to add, but I wanted to actually mean it – and really work with them to create something greater than just a few paragraphs reviewing baby food or a cleaning product. Over the years I’ve been honoured to collaborate with brands in a really engaging way; for example on charity campaigns or interviewing brand ambassadors.
As for learning the ropes, Google Analytics has been a useful tool. Who doesn’t get addicted to watching that little arrow move up and up each month (or mortified when a post gets less traffic than its predecessors?) And since installing an SEO plugin I’ve turned into a nerd about what readers like and what time of day they like it best at. But brands are obviously interested in this too – I realised that taking a snapshot of the stats and sharing them with campaign managers meant that they could be included in performance reports.
Personally, I also love Twitter; it’s the ultimate tool for chancers and opportunists really, isn’t it? Many a time I’ve seen something and thought ‘I’d love to work with these guys’, then reached out with a tweet and crossed everything. Nine times out of ten you’ll get a reply.
And if you’re an Influencer and haven’t used Webfluential yet, you’re missing a trick. You can essentially market yourself via their portal and therefore connect with global brands all – you know – from the comfort of your sofa (or, in my case, whilst juggling the PTA and driving the kids to swimming lessons…) Webfluential just launched the first ever quoting engine; allowing Influencers to pitch brands, build quotes and media kits – even book campaigns – all via their infrastructure (which includes payment guarantee!) Webfluential are the first company to give bloggers these growth tools to market themselves and their ideas; it’s like ‘Hello Brand, it’s me, Slick Mummy – and here’s my big idea…’
When I first started out, my neighbour was a chap called Ben Hammersley. He’s a self-confessed geek (he invented the word ‘podcast’) and is Wired’s Editor at Large. He had just written a book called ’64 Things…’ which talks about the history of the internet and the digital future. When you think about how fast moving the technological world really is and just how much *stuff* is on the web, not to mention how it is found, you realise that it’s pointless to be just average. Working with huge, hero brands in a challenging way has so many benefits about and beyond just feeling like you’ve posted great content – especially when it comes to message amplification – but also nice to be recognised as an Influencer, to get positive feedback from readers and have content shared on social media.

Editor

Classlist: the virtual school gates app

If first week of school has meant a series of frantic interactions with fellow parents along the lines of ‘we must put a date in to catch up’ or ‘can we trade afterschool pickups?’ or ‘what day are you doing swimming lessons?’ – then completely forgetting what the other person said as the whole conversation was lost in a blur as your child had a meltdown because you forgot their gym socks.

Familiar?

Well if so – new social platform Classlist might be one to check out. The gist is that it allows you to interact with other parents, plot playdates etc from the comfort of your phone or laptop – no need to try and juggle diary dates whilst still in zombie-mode and lacking caffeine. Can’t remember the name of the new kid? Nevermind – just look them up on Classlist and say hi to Mum and Dad…

image: celebritybabyscoop
image: celebritybabyscoop

Classlist differentiates itself from existing US-based social networks – Facebook, WhatsApp and LinkedIn – through an unrelenting focus on making parent life easier, along with a strong emphasis on security, moderation and management. The site has a multitude of tools designed to help with the job of parenting, rather than encouraging users to chat.

Susan Burton, co-founder of Classlist, said,

“Classlist solves a very simple problem: most schools don’t give out parent contact information. Schools are rightly concerned about data privacy, and few people are willing to put their phone number or home address on a big social media site. It is incredibly important for parents to build a trusted community. Having these details makes it a lot easier.”

Clare Wright, co-founder of Classlist said,

“Parents increasingly juggle responsibilities between full time jobs and school, and some tell us they struggle to identify other parents in their class. Classlist has all the information a parent needs in just a click or two.”

The sign-up page for new schools is here: try.schoolclasslist.com/set-up/

SM reviews… The Kindle Fire for Kids

Amazon’s Kindle Fire for Kids is a 7″ tablet which comes with a year’s worth of Fire for Kids Unlimited (access to thousands of books, TV shows, educational apps, and games), a kid-friendly browser, an anti-bash case and – best of all- a two year no quibble warranty for breakage or screen cracks – however your little blighters did it…

We checked it out…

SM tester writes: OK, if you’re one of those ‘no TV except on special occasions’ parents then don’t read on… If, however, like me, you want a solution for travel, airport delays, 15 minutes longer in bed at the weekend or just generally trying to get your kids to have a bit of ‘quiet time’ (rather than chasing each other up and down the stairs or demanding you play ‘horsey’…) then this might be the best 99 quid you’ll spend this year. 

If you’re a Kindle person you’ll be familiar with the Amazon interface – and the Fire for Kids has a ‘grown up’ section which allows all that (ie shopping, getting books, web browsing etc)- but it is cleverly hidden behind a passcode login and even if your children bash every number they know in there is no danger of either a) accidentally one-click purchasing something really expensive or b) resetting the device. 

The thing is, they actually won’t even be remotely interesting in trying to hack your account when their own profile is so much more appealing. You can actually set up multiple accounts – each with its own icon – and preload them with age appropriate, more or less guilt free TV shows, films, books and apps such as ‘Ben and Holly’, ‘Team Umizoomi’, ‘Room on the Broom’ etc. 

My kids navigated the interface so intuitively I didn’t even open the instructions – they just swiped to find programmes they liked and recently viewed items are saved to a ‘carousel’. A tech-savvy pal told me (about a week later) that adding an SD card to the equation means you can back up content, meaning that long car journeys without wifi can be full of the oinks of Peppa or (more to the point) the silence of complaints. 

Real little gems we discovered include all the Sago Mini games – really lovely, imaginative apps designed for teenies, with lovable characters and very clever programming meaning that the games respond to the sorts of things that only a two year old would make them do (ie drive a car underwater or put a fish in a juicer…)

There are obviously loads of studies out there linking screen exposure to lack of REM sleep, anti social behaviour, blah blah – and you can actually limit the time your kids watch/play for on this tablet- but personally I find it is more a case of ‘what’ they are watching than for how long. My middle child, for example, will zonk out at the very strains of the animated version of ‘The Gruffalo’ or be rendered comatose as a result of watching ‘In the Night Garden’, whereas my eldest (slightly eccentric) son adores Christmas movies (at any time of year) and will happily settle down in his PJs with a blankie and something festive. WP_20160830_07_40_06_Pro

Honestly, we can’t really fault this product; the battery life will easily last the length of the M1 or a flight to Greece and (unlike my iPad) the touch screen works fine even when sticky fingers have been at it. The durable case means the tablet can be carried in a child’s rucksack (along with all their other junk) and – unlike slightly more frustrating children’s tablets out there – the load up speed for content is quick enough that (out of boredom) they don’t start pressing every function button or using it as a weapon.

The Kindle Fire for Kids is available from Amazon.

 

Clever Clogs Products: The Philips Avent UGrow Smart Baby Monitor

Once upon a dark age (not so long ago really) you kept tabs on your sleeping child by keeping the door open and listening hard. Grandmothers may have tales of ‘we tied a little bell to the blankie, so we’d hear when baby woke up…’

When electronic baby monitors first came out they either meant tuning in to a crackly hiss of white noise (with a sleeping baby masquerading somewhere in the frequency) or some sort of motion setting off a beeping audio so loud that it woke up the next three streets (not to mention the baby).

Thankfully, the Philips Avent UGrow Smart Baby Monitor is nothing like any of these –  it is a high definition monitor  which uses connected technology to monitor sleep and environment, automatically capturing variables such as room temperature and humidity. The uGrow Smart Baby Monitor is app controlled from any Android or iOS device, moving seamlessly between networks to maintain a continuous connection, which gives complete peace of mind to new parents. Its dedicated, user-friendly app also lets you share a video stream with up to ten family members or friends.

In short: if you are at work or you want to check in on the baby sitter you can not only see your child at 720p HD resolution (and if need be change the temperature or lighting), but you can also interact with him. All from your phone or tablet.

“We’re excited to be making such meaningful strides in digital innovation and supporting parents to give their babies the best start in life, setting the stage for healthy futures,” explains Maylis Galeano Do Amaral, Avent Marketing Manager, Philips UK & Ireland.

The Philips Avent uGrow Smart Baby Monitor is available now from Amazon, priced at RRP £180.

The Robo-Nanny is actually a happening thing…

We got this great story from Travelzoo yesterday, which got us all talking: who would happily leave their kids with a robot minder? Sounds irresponsible? Well, we all leave them on the baby monitor without a care – and let’s face it, a robot might be more predictable than the teenage babysitter…

Travelzoo Uncovers Global Perception of Robots Being Used in Childcare on Holiday

London, April 18, 2016 – Imagine a resort where after checking in using an iris scanner or robot receptionist, you are shown your room by a robo-butler who has already set the temperature exactly how you like it, and pre-ordered your favourite shampoo and arrival drinks and snacks. After settling in to the resort you decide to drop the children off at the kids’ club so you can relax with your partner by the pool. The kids’ club host, however, is nothing like you’ve seen before. She’s a humanoid robot capable of speaking 80 different languages and with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Dora the Explorer. How comfortable are you leaving your beloved children with this particular type of carer?

A scenario such as this is not a thing of the future – it’s all entirely possible today as travel deals company Travelzoo discovered in its Future of Travel project. Travelzoo reviewed current usage of robots and artificial intelligence in the travel and hospitality industry, and commissioned research to poll over 6,000 people globally about their acceptance of robots being part of their holiday experience.

While the use of robotics in childcare is just beginning, the research reveals 80% of people expect robots to play a major role in daily life by 2020. The majority (61%) of parents polled said they were willing to accept robots being used in childcare roles in the holiday environment. Interestingly parents were more accepting of robots in childcare than non-parents.

British and German travellers are the least keen on robots looking after their children on holiday. The Chinese are the most positive about robot nannies with 89% of Chinese parents saying yes to this idea.

Richard Singer, Travelzoo’s European President said: “Roboptimism – positive sentiment about robots – is alive and well and without doubt robots are starting to appear in the travel industry in all corners of the globe. In the right environment robots can help humans do their jobs better. When it comes to childcare in resorts, one obvious benefit is their ability to converse in multiple languages, as well as the fact they never tire. Robots are also very entertaining and currently provide a massive source of fascination, drawing guests to hotels to engage with them. Nobody is suggesting robots will replace human entertainers and carers in the childcare environment, but we do believe that for some resorts there could be huge benefits in having robots partner with humans.”

Robot Nanny might be more sophisticated than this…

Opinion is also divided regarding how a robot childminder/carer should look. American parents are the most in favour of a robot looking ‘human’, but all other nations prefer the option of a robot looking like a character in a children’s book. Nearly three quarters of British parents are averse to the idea of a ‘human-looking’ robot caring for their children and 51% prefer the children’s literary character option.

Debbie Bird, Managing Editor at BabyTV added: “Although robots are clearly going to become a big part of our life in the future, a balance needs to be struck when it comes to the use of robotics in childcare. While there are certain elements of life and learning that can be enhanced by robots, small children need to learn from other humans, and this human-to-human interaction is fundamental for their emotional development.

“There is nothing stronger than the bond between humans; a hug, warmth and physical contact cannot possibly be replicated by a machine and nor should it be, particularly when it comes to the day-to-day care of young children.”

*About the research

The survey for Travelzoo’s Future of Travel report was conducted with an online questionnaire by third-party research agency Norstat. The questionnaire was completed by 6,208 travellers across the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Japan, the US and China. More at Travelzoo.