Gadgets Galore, the Newest Family Travel Tech at CES in 2019

Jan 17, 2019

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Resourceful moms and dads will take every advantage they can get to make family travel go more smoothly. That includes using technology. Smart parents have moved way past a really cool car seat or diaper bag. For those folks who are ready to embrace “what’s next” in family travel tech, we wanted to share some of our favorite finds at this year’s recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Solutions for the Pumping Mom On-the-Go

Moms who choose to breastfeed their children face a number of challenges. Finding clean, quiet places to nurse has gotten easier when on the go, but it is far from ideal for some. When moms are away from their babies, using old-school breast pumps can be a real hassle. The machines are bulky, can be tough to keep clean and are a bit of a pain to use. Two new entrants to the market completely change the vision for how a nursing mom can travel across town or across the world.

Willow has released its 2.0 breast pump and had it on display at the show at $499 for a set of two, Willow is a completely self-contained pumping system. There are no tubes and very few parts to clean. It fits inside a nursing bra and weighs about three-quarters of a pound. The milk is stored in a sealed bag so it’s protected from contamination. Willow can handle about five pumping sessions before a recharge is needed and charges fully within two hours. Each bag holds about 4 ounces of milk.

Willow breastmilk pump

Pumping on the plane or similar would likely be infinitely easier with something like Willow than with traditional pumps.

Elvie is already available in the UK and will be for sale soon in the US. Similar in concept to Willow, it has a few areas where it comes out slightly ahead in terms of features. The set of two comes at the same price tag of $499, but the company also sells just one for $279, if you want to take the time to switch sides when you pump. That may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does make the product fit a range of budgets.

Elvie breastmilk pump

A two-hour charge will yield about 2.5 hours of pumping time, or about six sessions for the average mom. The Elvie product also is listed at about a quarter-pound lighter than the Willow. Elvie holds 5 ounces of milk as compared to 4 ounces with Willow. Elvie uses a sealed plastic bottle as opposed to the bags that Willow provides.

Not Your Grandpa’s Polaroid

Polaroid and Kodak continue to reinvent themselves in the digital age. You might remember that old Polaroid camera your parents or grandparents had where the photo would spit out the front and you’d fan it in the air to develop it more quickly — even though that never really worked. Well, today’s Polaroid cameras are a bit different. The new Mint camera uses the new zero-ink printing capabilities we’ve seen pop up over the last couple of years. It has an onboard memory card to save your pictures and allows you to choose what you print. Once you select a photo to print, the camera goes to work — spitting out your photo in seconds.

If you want that old-school look with a bit more on the features side, the One-Step+ i-Type Camera looks just like the old-school Polaroids. It’ll print pictures you take, but also works with an app on your phone to add cool editing effects to your pictures.

One-Step+ i-Type Camera

Kodak announced the new KODAK SMILE, which supports a slightly larger zero ink picture. The units were in a bit more of a prototype phase, so I couldn’t test the quality.

Keep Your Family’s Life-Saving Medicine Safe

Travel can be a challenge if you have to plan for keeping medicine like insulin ready at the proper conditions. A new product aims to use technology to make sure that medicine stays safe. Lifeinabox will keep certain medicines cold for up to four hours without any outside power, and can be charged at home or in the car. An app will keep you informed of the temperature of your medicine and alert you to any issues. The product isn’t quite ready for launch but should be soon. There’s no clear word yet on how easy it’ll be to get through airport security.

Family Tech That’s a Bit Less Travel-Related

We found a few gadgets that may come in handy for your family. They may not make your traveling life better, but they should help make the rest of life better/more fun.

Babeyes records the world from your newborn’s point-of-view. The mini HD camera attaches to the baby’s clothing and records from his or her perspective. Save the video for your child to see people’s reactions to them when they’re older.


Getting kids to brush their teeth correctly (and for long enough) can be a chore for even the most dedicated parents. For the past few years, we’ve seen companies pop up at CES with augmented reality toothbrushes. In the past, they’ve mostly seemed like vaporware. This year’s versions are already out on the market and might represent a path to better oral hygiene for your little ones. Look for Grush and PlayBrush at an online retailer.

Playbrush Smart Sonic

While we’re on the subject of games, coding schools have become a big part of the landscape for children and young adults. One of our kids’ favorite characters, Harry Potter, is part of a new coding kit that launched prior to CES and was a big hit for the holiday shopping season. It was also featured in a big way during the show. Just one more piece of Harry Potter’s world you can invest in.

TechDen is an interesting twist on controlling screen time for your children. It’s a physical device instead of an app. Your child has a slot inside the box to plug in his or her tablet. You can manage how much time they get to use the device, and when. Plus, you can set up rewards if your child returns their tablet on a timely basis.

When your child checks in their tablet and goes outside to play, the Vivo fitness tracker can keep track of the activity. The Vivo isn’t new this year, but the newest version does come with bands that feature some of your child’s favorite characters, including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and those from Star Wars.

Vivofit Jr. 2

Wrapping Up CES 2019

Separating what’s real from “if wishing only made it so” can be challenging at CES. We believe that all of these products will make it onto a retailer’s shelf in 2019, but based on history, we wouldn’t be surprised if a few never found the finish line. That’s a bit of the excitement and frustration of the Consumer Electronics Show. Seeing a product the world would definitely benefit from disappear from existence is always a disappointment.

Willow and Elvie strike us as the stars of family tech, and they both are poised to be available in the US. Lifeinabox still has some question marks, but could make a huge difference. The best and the brightest are supposed to be featured at CES each year. 2019 seemed a bit light when it came to tech geared toward families. Moms and dads may have to wait yet another year before the magic invention is unveiled that cleans the house, plans the vacations and packs the suitcases all while making sure the bills get paid and the dog gets a boarding appointment.

Featured image by by Caiaimage/Agnieszka Olek / Getty Images

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