OmniO Rider Backpack Buggy

British Inventors ProjectParents, we’ve all been there. You’re as far away from home or car as possible and your toddler decides that he or she has had enough of walking. No amount of encouragement or cajoling will make him take another step and you have to carry your darling all the way back.

If you recognise this story then you’ll be interested in the OmniO Rider, a lightweight buggy (stroller) which collapses to a backpack. The production version is expected to weight less than 6 kg and that’s definitely lighter than a toddler! I tried on the prototype and even it was light enough.

OmniO Rider Fold Sequence

In most other respects it looks much like an ordinary buggy with cupholders and nappy changing bag.

OmniO Rider

Aside from from the clever folding mechanism, the OmniO team developed a new wheel design that uses rollers for sideways motion. Called omni-wheels, they can go at the front or the back of the buggy depending on the driver’s preference. I liked these – lovely piece of engineering. Who says you can’t reinvent the wheel?

Omnio Wheels

The OmniO Rider is currently an Indiegogo campaign where it’s trying to raise $50,000. With an expected retail price of $500, there are early bird offers at $350, so get in quick.

Taking all this into account, it wasn’t a total surprise when it won Gadget Show Live’s “British Invention of the Year Award”.

Omnio Award

Child Angel Keeps an Eye on Children

British Inventors Project

Continuing GNC’s coverage of the Gadget Show Live and the British Inventors’ Project, Child Angel is one of the smallest and most advanced child tracking device on the market. Made to be attractive to the child and easy to use in an emergency, the Child Angel wrist-mounted tracker provides accurate location monitoring by combining GPS, GSM and Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation.

Child Angel keeps children safe in three ways. First the parent can view the child’s location on a map using the Child Angel app on their smartphone or tablet (both iOS and Android). Second, the child can send a “Help Me!” alert by taking off the bracelet and third, an alert is raised if the child leaves a geo-fenced SafeZone.

The battery life is about 48 hours and the Child Angel can easily be recharged through the micro-USB. The Child Angel bracelet is available in different colours and can be customised with personalised covers, too.

The Child Angel should be available soon with a retail cost around £100.

Child Angel

Doddl Cutlery for Children

British Inventors ProjectChild-friendly products are fertile ground for inventors and it’s no surprise to see a number of ideas presented at Gadget Show Live as part of the British Inventors’ Project. Here is Doddl, a cutlery (flatware) set for children that has uniquely shaped handles to help the child hold the knife, fork and spoon.

Doddl improves co-ordination and control while promoting independent eating and develops motor skills, eventually easing the transition onto adult cutlery.

Doddl

Doddl will be pre-ordering on Kickstarter from Sunday 3rd May (though there is an older campaign on CrowdShed). Make eating a Doddl!

SafeSip Stops Spills

British Inventors ProjectSafeSip is a reusable drinks cover that fits almost any glass, mug, cup or can to stop spills. It’s a simple product that has myriad uses with children, the elderly, during travel, on picnics or in places where a liquid leak would be disastrous.

Made from food-grade silicone rubber, the SafeSip can be pulled over a wide range of drinking vessels, including fizzy drink (soda) cans, with a straw pushed through a self-closing hole in the SafeSip. It’s dishwasher safe, works with both hot and cold liquids, and comes in eight different colours. Another great product from the British Inventors’ Project at the Gadget Show Live.

SafeSip

The SafeSip is currently crowdfunding at CrowdShed.

Pony Palace Camp

Pony Palace IllustrationAt the Pony Palace riding school, ponies Barney, Biscuit and Kaz are getting up to their usual mischief during Summer Camp with their riders Holly, Carrie and Patrick. With a clear round needed to clinch the winning rosette, it’ll take tumbles and tears before everyone’s back safely in the stables.

Pony Palace Camp is the first in a new series of books, Pony Friends Forever, that all pony-mad children will love. Based on the animals and events at Lessans Riding Stables outside Belfast in Northern Ireland, author Pauline Burgess tells the stories from the ponies’ point of view. Although light-hearted and fun, each book will will deal with a situation that young people face, from illness to family-breakups. Launched today at Lessans, the book is available from all good retailers, including Amazon and Waterstones.

For regular Geek News Central readers who fear that they have inadvertently logged onto Mumsnet, the author Pauline, is a friend and neighbour, hence the diversion from the usual tech topics. Normal service will be resumed shortly with reviews of the Motorola Moto X and the Archos Helium 50 smartphones.

Safe Games for Kids by Toca Boca at The Gadget Show

Toca BocaAs a a parent with a tablet-loving daughter, I’m always worried that she’s either playing inappropriate games or else building up whopping a credit card bill via in-app purchases. Being tech-savvy, I can easily rectify the latter by controlling the password to my account, but this doesn’t always negate pester-power. The former is still a concern and I’m not alone as these two issues are relevant to parents everywhere.

To help mums and dads, Swedish outfit Toca Boca, “a play studio that makes digital toys for kids” have created a range of open-ended, non-competitive games that appeal to children where the initial purchase cost is the only time you need to flex the credit card. There are over 20 apps available for Apple, Android and Amazon devices, and include games for young hairdressers, chefs, doctors, vets, chemists, scientists and drivers. The themes are very similar to some of the popular “free” games that are out there; the Toca Boca versions usually cost US$2.99 but there are no subsequent in-app purchases.

I chat to Sonia about the Toca Boca apps and how parents can be more confident in what their children playing on their tablets without the worry of an enlarged credit card bill.

Social Media for Children – KidzVuz

KidzVuz LogoKidzVuz is an on-line community for children that lets them review and comment on kids’ gear. Andy and Don talk with co-founder Rebecca Levey about the site’s features and how they’re tailored to children.

Children are often left out of the on-line world as the major social networking sites such as Facebook enforce age restrictions on their members, and rightly so. KidzVuz encourages junior members to join in but addresses child protection issues by seeking parental permission, moderating all content and preserving anonymity. The site is completely COPA-compliant.

KidzVuz encourages children to upload video reviews of toys and games; to reward participation, many activities are turned into games with worldwide leaderboards. The site is categorised with different areas such as games, books and film. Food and travel has proved popular with children reporting back on family holidays.

KidzVuz is free to use by children and there is complementary blog for parents.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net, and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Kidz Gear Volume Limiting Headphones

Volume Limiting Headphones

CES regular Jack Peterson talks with Todd and Don on the latest headphones for children from Kidz Gear.

Kidz Gear produces headphones with smaller headbands and ear cups to fit the smaller heads of children. This year they’ve brought to the market new wired headphones that have a built-in volume limiter that prevents children’s hearing becoming damaged through excessive sound levels. The headphones reduce the maximum sound level by about 20% into the 80-95 decibel range.

The new headphones are compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod ranges and include an inline remote  and mic control. They’re available from the Apple Store or direct from Kidz Gear for $29.99.

An additional new product in the same vein is a volume limit cable which can be added to already-purchased headphones to make them safer for children. Priced at only $9.99, there’s currently a special price of $5.99 showing on-line.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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Reading Together, Reading for Pleasure

Booktime LogoMore time is spent reading with children but parents are finding modern life tiring and stressful, according to research commissioned by Booktime. The average time spent by parents reading with their child (4  & 5 year olds) is now one hour 26 mins per week, an increase of 10% over 2009. 60% of parents read with children for pleasure on a daily basis.

Tiredness was cited as the main reason for shared reading not being fun, but it was the tiredness of the parents (18%) rather than the child (6%) that was the problem. Getting home from work in time was also a problem, with 30% of dads getting stuck at work.

Regardless, 71% of parents and carers said that reading with their child was always or usually the highlight of the day. 80% of the parents said that reading was associated with fun with 86% of children laughing out loud.

The book is still the main reading device (86%) but other devices such as smartphones, tablets and e-readers are becoming more prevalent. By the time a child is six, nearly a quarter of parents use technology in addition to paper-based books.

In a time of economic doom-and-gloom, this relatively minor story made my day. It costs so little to read to children especially when books are available from libraries or the Booktime programme, yet the benefits to both parents and children are immense. As a father of a 4 year old daughter, I love reading with her, especially at bedtime. It’s just us, with no distractions and we read the story together. If she grows up with a love of reading and learning, I will have done my job as a parent.

Booktime is a national (UK) free books programme for pre-school children that aims to promote the pleasure of reading by encouraging families to have fun reading together. This year, nearly 1.4 million books will be given away in partnership with Pearson.

Magazines are iPads That Don’t Work

Watch the video below and let me know how you feel after watching it, but for the purposes of discussion, remember two things first. One, to avoid any pro- or anti-Apple bias, ignore the fact that it’s an Apple iPad and assume that it’s just a generic tablet. Two, take what the video shows at face value as one could easily make a case that some of the actions with the magazines are normal behaviour and don’t show anything special.

Add your comments below. I’ll chip in later.