My “get a life” award for International CES goes to VentureBeat and Re/code. With thousands of new products launched — many of them for the connected home and kids market, the authors chose to focus on the name “MommyTech” – a name coined to spotlight the growing interest in building well designed products for the home.
MommyTech, like Fitness Tech, Health Tech, Kids Tech and Silvers Summit (boomer tech) are a collection of products targeted to a specific demographic. That doesn’t mean you need to be Jillian Michaels to be interested in Fitness Tech any more than you have to be June Cleaver to walk the MommyTech exhibit.
It means these are specific areas where vendors can congregate in order to target specific demographics.
CES, a show traditionally catering to guys who love tech gear (think cars, TVs and cables) got the wake-up call a few years ago that women too buy and love tech. The name MommyTech, though a little archaic, describes this vocal, growing audience.
VentureBeat decided the name MommyTech is some sort of slur against women everywhere. But it misses the point. MommyTech is less about gender roles and more about products that help get the daily, mundane chores done so more time can be spent with family and hobbies.
According to author Jolie O’Dell, MommyTech is an area dedicated to keeping women chained to a kitchen, much like the one she saw at the Whirlpool showroom.
“Most of the rest of the MommyTech exhibitors were in the same camp — let’s keep moms cooking, cleaning, and caregiving, but let’s try to make cooking, cleaning, and caregiving more modern and fun.”
Truly, it doesn’t matter if the dog does the laundry, but laundry has got to get done. Moms traditionally spend more time thinking about and doing that, as well as other household tasks. Gender stereotyping, maybe, but this is the audience these companies want to reach.
She goes on: “Of course, CES takes the more antiquated, sexist view that co-parenting isn’t actually a thing, and moms are, for the purposes of this show, positioned squarely in the kitchen with a baby monitor on the counter and a toddler with an iPad on the floor.”
“One exhibitor, smart home lock system SimpliciKey, told me, “We designed this lock with busy moms in mind. Her hands are full, she’s holding onto groceries, she’s got a baby in one arm, and if anyone deserves to go keyless, it’s Mom. Holy crap. The poor woman. She doesn’t need a keyless entry system — she needs a co-parenting partner.”
Do you really think – and I know you have to envision this, because you are not a parent who has ever rushed home from work, stuck in traffic, picking up kids from after-school programs, wondering about dinner, and cursing homework – that simply having a husband or partner who can do laundry or cook will lighten your load? Not so.
I’ll tell you what can – technology can. Technology like Whirlpool’s vision of the future, and LG’s connected appliances, aren’t presuming that moms are stuck in the kitchen doing all the housework, they just get that most moms are multitasks – it’s in their DNA. And they want to help make life easier and more efficient for them.
Believe me, if we could have borrowed a helpful co-partner from the Robotics Zone we’d be all over it. But even the best co-partner in the world isn’t available 24/7.
Here’s the point. There are amazing Dads everywhere. And amazing partnerships with all sorts of combinations of moms, dads and singles. The real point is that running a home and raising a family can get really complicated, especially in our overly-scheduled, always-connected world. The thing that can help is technology.
So watch some of the interviews on MommyTech TV and take a look at some of the technology presented from a women’s point of view. Despite the less-than-hip and definitely a bit retro name, “MommyTech”, I think you’ll see that we’re there talking about the future of families.
Oh, and men love MommyTech, too. Take a look at this photo Lauren Goode posted in Re/code. She writes “I Went to the CES MommyTech Summit and I Saw Dudes.” Nothing makes us happier. The products we showed are not gender specific; and men are quite drawn to these technologies too.
That said, the term ‘MommyTech’ does feel antiquated. So we’d love to hear what you have to say. Should we “hip-ify” it with a name like the XX Factor? “Family-fy “ it and call it Connected Families? Or just keep calling it MommyTech and watch the outrage? CES 2015 is less than a year away!
Andrea Smith is the Executive Producer of MommyTech TV and the MommyTech conference at CES. Robin Raskin is founder of Living in Digital Times, MommyTech’s parent.