They say there's an app for everything, and soon there's going to be one to control your stroller.
Designers are working on a self-propelling stroller called the Smartbe with all the bells and whistles parents could possibly dream of: an electric engine to make going uphill easier, a bottle warmer, built-in music and a rocker, internal and external cameras, plus three different retractable canopies. (You never know when it's going to rain!) The team behind Smartbe says their own experience as parents is what inspired the idea.
"I'm the father of two girls and I've had that problem when one wants to be in your arms and the other wants to be pushed," Mark Ramondt, Smartbe's Argentina-based CFO, told TODAY.
"The simple addition of technology to a stroller is really beneficial," he added.
But it's not cheap. Early supporters who buy through Smartbe's recently launched Indiegogo page will pay $399 for a stroller without the self-propelling technology, and $2,750 for a self-propelling stroller. The price will probably be around $3,000 when the self-propelling stroller officially launches next year.
"It's an expensive product, there's no doubt about it," Ramondt said. "But think of it as a first. Having new technology is expensive at first. I think in the U.S. a Tesla will run you about $80,000. Think of the first iPhones — they were expensive."
For moms and dads who can spare the cash, he thinks the costs is worth it, and points out that many high-end strollers are already going for upwards of $1,000, and that's without any smart technology.
Smartbe isn't the first to consider a stroller that moves on its own. Volkswagen engineers also recently invented a stroller they describe as "self-propelled, self-steering and self-driving, in addition to being self-stopping," although the company doesn't expect it to hit the market anytime soon. And a few years ago, a Seattle dad created a mechanized stroller that kids steer themselves.
The self-propelling component could come in handy for parents who want to go for a jog with their baby, or need to be hands-free to juggle other bags at the airport or supermarket, for example. The Smartbe stroller works with a wearable sensor (possibly a wristband, but the designers are still figuring that out) to know where to move.
Parents control the stroller's other features through a smartphone app.
But there's no need to worry about any runaway stroller scenarios, Ramondt said. If your phone or sensor is lost or stolen, there are also buttons to work the features on the stroller, and it can be put into manual mode. So as long as you don't lose the stroller itself, you'll be fine.
"One thing that's really important to say is that all the technologies that were put into this stroller are existing technologies," he said. "But they're being applied here in a revolutionary way."