Motherhood Gone Digital


momandbabyI’ve probably watched Pretty Woman at least 20 times over the years and I always chuckle when I see Richard Gere hold up the gigantic cell phone that’s as big as a brick. Talk about old technology.

I was just at the 10th annual Women in Technology Conference in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Approximately 300 women attended to talk about innovation in tech. Companies in attendance included Tyson, JB Hunt, IBM, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and more. Interestingly many of the presentations focused on timelines of how far we’ve come–from the Richard Gere “brick phone to today’s smartphones, tablets, Bluetooth technology and more. There is a daunting amount of evolution happening every day making it virtually impossible to keep up.

It made me pause and think about becoming a mom today. My children are both in college and while I still remember the trials and tribulations of preparing for a new baby so much has changed in the last 20 years. When my children were born smartphones didn’t exist. I didn’t have blogs or communities to turn to for advice. And I know when my daughter becomes pregnant, hopefully not for years, she will think I’m a dinosaur who has no clue what are the right products to buy or my advice is flawed since I had children in ancient times.

As a new mom, my daughter will have an overwhelming amount of resources to turn to and more content to digest than any other generation before them. I overheard three women, one of whom was pregnant, discussing her upcoming child. The mom-to-be was doing her research and was overwhelmed. She had smart friends though who told her not to worry yet as she didn’t know enough about the upcoming baby to make critical decisions.

Search “new baby” and over 2 billion hits come up. But that is the problem and it’s only going to get worse as more and more content is uploaded. Information overload for a mom who is already feeling overwhelmed before the baby is even born.

Despite growing up a digital native, the mom of the future will still be overwhelmed and buried in thousands and thousands of recommendations, checklists, educational tips and opinions. And she will have no shortage of advice from friends, and family and her peers all connected through smartphones, apps, communities and social media platforms. She will have a huge selection of stores to choose from–large, big box stores to boutique stores–both online and off.  She will be able to choose to save money through swaps; EBay and other sites recycling gently used baby items.

The digital mom will wake up with her smartphone at her bedside. And if she wakes up to a crying baby who might be sick, she is be able to check the baby’s temperature using a digital thermometer that inserts into the latest smartphone and tracks the baby’s health over time. And as the baby grows and enters school age, she will be able to use it track the health of her child’s classmates and keep her child home if she spots a health concern.

Her home will become more digital–beyond the microwaves, TV and alarm clocks–to the smoke detectors, lights, baby monitors and refrigerator and perhaps even to her car which has been started to warm up before they head out to run errands. The smartphone will become even more important as the remote control for her life, her home…her everything.

The stores she shops in are highly evolved. They will know she has entered the store using facial recognition technology or Beacon technology on her smartphone. The store will make the most of data they have stored about her past purchases. And the store, like a personal assistant, will know her regular purchases and automatically transmit the day’s deals to her smartphone to credit her at checkout.

Imagine a digital shopping cart that connects her shopping list to the item on shelf by informing her as she gets close to the item ensuring she gets everything on her list. And the cart has sensors that know when child she has placed in the cart is in danger or trying to slip the harness.

An augment reality app showcases the products she picks up and gives her recipe tips, information on the product, where it was grown and the company behind it. If she chooses video testimonials from her peers appear endorsing the purchase on the spot.

If Google’s Project Tango pans out she will be able to see a 3D image of her child’s school, enter the school and be guided the exact location of her child’s classroom. The Google car with its driverless capabilities could be a godsend when the child enters their teenage drinking years. No need for a designated driver, the Google car could pick them up and deliver them safely home.

Without a doubt it will be an entirely new world for moms. And much of this digital future is already here. And I believe she will embrace it because it will bring solutions to make her job as a mom simpler, more convenient and give her what she wants most–time.

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