Would You Place Your Child In A Hands-Free, Self-Propelled Buggy?


No? Me neither…..no matter how naughty my kids are!

Father of twins, entrepreneur Guillermo Morro wanted to design a stroller that could be a nanny on wheels according to Smartbe’s press release. With a hefty price tag of $2,750, Guillermo claims “Parents need a new concept”. Do we? well this just makes me wonder, what parents exactly is he talking about?

As a mother of three children under 9 years old, I certainly don’t need a new concept, in particular not one that puts my youngest child in a hand-free self-propelled stroller that’s operated by a smartphone or smart-watch.

Despite its rigorous testing to US & EU Safety Regulations I just can’t imagine why any parent would want to not have their hands on the buggy that contains their most precious possession? Yeah, I get that walking up hill is a pain in the butt, I also get that sometimes, having an older child dragging on the side making it even harder work is also unpleasant but please. A hand-free buggy solves all of this?

Smartbe says that it’s perfect for parents that want to go for a jog or have bags to juggle yet it has a physical stop safety cord that connects to the parents wrists at all times (although the makers are still working this through) I don’t know how I would juggle my shopping connected by a cord to a stroller.

Whilst I fully appreciate, technology and the pace in which the world of tech and innovation is moving, I just can’t understand, no matter how hard I try why as a mum if you wanted to jog and could afford the hefty price tag of the pram, why you wouldn’t just pay a babysitter to take care of your child in a safe environment whilst you pound the streets working up a sweat.

When I think about being out with my little one I want to feel the handle of the pram in my hands. Most mothers I know grip on to it for dear life as there are many situations where we feel vulnerable and we are vulnerable. Think about it, your child is in front of you, which means in the direct path of any danger that approaches from the front. I want to be able to swing my pram out of the way or thow myself in front of it, not fumble with my smartphone or get tangled in a chord!

Watching the Smartbe video, the woman demonstrating had her hands free so she could dig around in her pocket and answer her mobile. Is this really what the world has come to? As a regular blogger on digital burnout and digital mastery for the Huffington Post and founder of National Unplugging Day which urges parents and families to ditch their smartphones and devices for one day to spend time together off-line, I really don’t have the words to articulate my feelings of why as a parent you would want this level of freedom. ‘Me-time’ is a wonderful thing, if you can afford the pram, you can afford some time-out to go for a jog or invest in a pair of hands-free headphones so you can chat away whilst out with baby.

It’s not uncommon to see parents on their mobile phone whilst out with the buggy but are inventions like this just encouraging people to be even more addicted to their smartphones and really and truly never switching off. There’s something so wonderful about taking your child out in their buggy, pushing them along whilst chatting gobbledegook to them and handing them the odd raisin and rice cake over the top, seeing their little face peer up at you.

There is no question in my mind that the inventors behind the Smartbe are seriously intelligent and the world always needs innovative and smart people.  But please, can we just stop churning out tech solutions to non-existent problems?  I mean, what’s next, the self-driving car that drops your kids off at the school-gates so you can stay home and programme the laundry-folding robot to pair the socks? Where does it end?

I can imagine the conversations in the future, when I look back at photos with my children and the see the Smartbe and they enquire as to why I wasn’t pushing it. What will I say? That I couldn’t push them and struggle with my shopping at the same time, despite there being plenty of clip-on pram hooks on the market? That I wanted to jog or talk on my phone and didn’t want to be slowed down or distracted by them in a manual buggy? I can just picture it now, sitting round the dinner table with a nice spread of photos to reminisce over with my children watching their faces register that they were displaced by the lure of lazy technology. No gold stars for mamma, me thinks!

BTW: I’ll bet very few people know Volkswagen back in 2015 had designed something very, very similar…I wonder why they haven’t launched it yet.