Any parent of young children knows the extra layer of consideration required before buying a digital assistant -- do I really want to put up with my kid asking Google to play that "Raining Tacos" song on YouTube every five minutes?
C-Way, a new kid-tech startup, offers an out: Memoo, a device that houses Amazon's Alexa, but includes parental controls and extra kid-friendly features. Problem is, Memoo costs $175 (AU$240, £140) -- nearly four times the price of an Echo Dot.
Here's how Memoo works. First, parents connect the device to an app on their phone, from which they can send voice messages, set basic alarms and set up daily agendas to be read aloud each morning.
In addition, kids can access games, music, and info on the internet -- all via voice commands. Using pictograms and colors, Memoo will also indicate how the weather outside is, so kids can dress accordingly, and at night, Memoo can trigger connected humidifiers and thermostats.
Memoo also lets users access Amazon's parental controls for Alexa. Parents can approve Spotify playlists for their children, limit Wi-Fi access to certain hours and choose particular family members for the kids to be able to contact via voice message through the app.
C-Way's idea isn't a bad one. The problem is, Memoo seems to go a long way to supplant the day-to-day interactions that characterize parent-child relationships. It's those small interactions, like waking up a child in the morning or reminding them to grab their lunch on the way out the door, that define parenthood. And while Memoo might appear to be an expedient solution to everyday issues in parenting, my question is, since when is expedience such a priority in caring for a child?
C-Way plans to make Memoo available in Fall 2017.