Holiday #Gift Ideas At @MicrosoftStore #Sponsored

Microsoft Store Holiday Gift GuideAfter countless experiences of giving my kids gifts they were asking for (even begging for), that they then abandoned after a short time – I pledged to try to buy gifts that last. During the holidays some of my favorite gift ideas (that last throughout the year) are technology devices and accessories. I was excited when SocialMoms and Microsoft asked me to participate in a sponsored blogging program to discuss holiday gift ideas at the Microsoft Store because they have such a wide range of technology devices and accessories gift ideas under one roof!

 
 
 

Here is a video that shows my fun adventure at the Microsoft Store checking out gifts that satisfies everyone from tech beginners to tech savvy, gamers, fashionistas, busy professionals, students and technology for the whole family.
 
 

 
 
Some of the great gifts I checked out at the store you can also check out online first, then head to the Microsoft Store to have your gift in hand for the holidays. If you don’t know exactly what they want, you can get gift cards for the Microsoft Store, XBox  or Skype. But there are also a range of phones, unique family touch enabled All-in-One desktops like the Sprout by HP, laptops like the Lenovo Yoga 2 in 1, tablets like the Surface Pro 3 Bundle or HP Stream 7 tablet (currently only $99!).

 
 

Microsoft Surface 3 Pro Bundle

 

 

All types of cases like  Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag , Greene & Gray Device Purse  or the Knomo Foley Device Cross Body Sleeve.

 

Knomo Foley  Cross Body Device Sleeve

 

 

Wearables are another hot gift idea such as FitBit and stylish Misfit Shine that monitor activity, calories and sleep. But there are also many other app-enabled accessories to choose from!

 

Misfit Shine and Sport Band

 

Entertainment gifts such as the Jawbone Mini wireless speaker, XBox One Plus Kinect  and maybe a stocking stuffer of a new XBox Wireless controller.  “Makers” may want the gift of MakerBot-Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer that can inspire all types of creative projects or the Go Pro HERO3 to unleash video creativity on the go.  I know that my kids are asking for some new video games but I also have some on my list including the Nike + Kinect Training and Just Dance 2014!

 

Xbox 360 Chrome Series Wireless Controller

 

Don’t forget tech toys such as the remote controlled aircraft like the Parrot AR Drone2.0 that performs smartphone-controlled acrobatic tricks.

 

Parrot MiniDrones Rolling Spide

 

 

 

What are you shopping for this holiday?

 

 

Disclosure: This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Microsoft blogging program #MSFTHoliday . The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

 

 

 

 

Online Learning @Curious, From #DIY Beading Jewels to #Coding Ruby on Rails

Check on the bottom of this post for a special link to get a Curious.com Course Credit.

 

Curious.com Sunset #GiftofLearning

 

 

Online learning has captured the attention of my friends and me as our children progress through Middle School and High School and we keep wondering why our kids should have all the fun, learning new skills and information online. Curious.com is a great resource in the quest for online education. It is a marketplace for lifelong learning that offers a wide range of online courses in formats friendly to anyone who wants to learn something new or advance their skills. The site offers “more than 10,000 interactive, video based lessons and courses available to anyone, anytime they feel like learning something new. Most courses typically range from $9.99 to $9.99“.

 

 

This month I was invited to a Curious.com DIY Holiday Gift Making and Wine Tasting media event featuring Sunset Magazine and The O’Neil Sisters. I was already looking at sharing the gift of learning with Curious.com gift cards to family who want to learn how to use a DSLR or learn more about coding in HTML/CSS and Ruby on Rails. At this event I was faced with something that my years of technology background could not provide: DIY beading.  It is well known in my circle of friends that I can bravely stand up to any technology challenge but I do have a fear of crafting. I want to learn, but let’s just say it does not come naturally to me.

 

I have been reading Sunset Magazine for years and enjoyed hearing the Sunset Editors at the event discuss tips on choosing wines while we did some tastings at the event. The Sunset Seminars on Curious.com already helped me learn how to cook a holiday meal,  so I was looking forward to learning more by checking out the Sunset Essentials of Wine class and maybe event setting up a Container Garden. But could I get over my fear of crafting and make a DIY Beaded necklace?

 

DIY Beaded Jewelry O'Neil Sisters Video Curious.com

 

 

The O’Neil Sisters came to the event to do a live presentation of their DIY Beaded Jewerly class.

 

 

Curious.com O'Neil Sisters DIY Beaded Jewerly Class

 

 

The O’Neil Sisters helped me overcome my fear with their step by step instructions. I was thrilled to have finished my first official DIY project! To be honest, I was actually hyperventilating when I first saw the bag of beads and the hardware. But in the end I realized it was not that hard if you have the right instruction. My friends will be completely surprised to hear me say this, but I may actually start doing some crafting to make holiday gifts!

 

 

DIY Beaded Jewelry O'Neil Sisters Curious.com

 

 

Curious.com online learning classes also make great gifts. There are a range of courses including more DIY crafts, languages such as Mandarin and Italian, Spanish for Kids, Knife Skills and other Foodie classes, Health and Fitness including daily workouts, Music classes including rock drumming and beginning guitar, classes for Entrepreneurs such as business builder workshops and unique classes such as indie film making and ninja training.  Here are the instructions from their site on giving the #GiftOfLearning : “To gift a course, go to Curious.com and click on the gift icon next to any course. Gift-givers can them crate a personal gift message and schedule a delivery date. The course recipient will own the course and will be able to watch it again and again. Delivery of the gift messages and course access happen instantly. If the gift recipient prefers a different course instead, no problem — the course credit is fully transferable to any other Curious.com course.

 

 

At the event I was excited to learn that I would be able to share a course credit code with my readers! Sign up for Curious.com with this link: https://curious.com/invited/EKusCX-M44Q and you will get a $25.00 credit applied to your account.

 

 

What type of online class would you be interested in taking? Anyone else have a fear of crafting they want to overcome?

 

 

Disclosure: I was invited as media to the event and given a Curious.com course credit. All of my words are my own and I really crafted that necklace (with a little help from the O’Neil sisters and Curious.com)!

 

 

 

 

Tech To Prepare For Severe Weather Like #BayAreaStorm

Growing up in the East Coast helped me prepare for extreme weather. As a kid the school closing for a snow day was so exciting because it meant a day of sledding with my friends. But as an adult I have seen how dangerous extreme weather can be. In California we have had droughts the last few years which was dangerous in it’s own way. But it almost made me forget the steps to prepare for Winter weather.

 

Tech For Extreme Weather #BayAreaStorm

 

The good news is that today is big rainstorm (#BayAreaStorm) in a state that has been suffering a terrible drought.  The bad news is that rainstorms in my area of Northern California can lead to flooding, dangerous driving conditions, power outages, trees falling down and more. The current #BayAreaStorm has heavy rain and wind gusts. We dropped our kids to school this morning but there was flash flooding and road closures I had to watch out for on the way home. We started preparing last night for the storm and all the research inspired me to create a post to share some of my steps we did to prepare for our storm.

 

Step 1: Setup Up Websites, Apps and Alerts To Automate Monitoring Weather Conditions:  We find it important to always monitor weather conditions and with all of the websites, apps and alerts there are many ways to do that.  Websites such as the National Weather Service are used as basis for apps like the WeatherSphere Weather Alerts and other products and Simple Weather Alerts. States also have Emergency Services pages with sections for Floods and other weather emergencies. Weather.com and Accuweather have weather updates and alerts on their websites and apps. I like to sign up for alerts so I get updates for emergencies such as flash floods. There are alerts that appear on apps but also text alerts.  Luckily there are local emergency services that also automatically send out alerts because I received a text on my phone this morning about a flash flood that was not something I had signed up for. There are also websites such as Nixle that gather information from “over 7,000 public safety and government agencies at the local, county, and state level”.  Many phones or tablets enable you to load a weather widget on your home screen which automatically shows the weather each day.

 

 

NOAA Weather Alerts - Severe Weather Push Notifications & Warnings

NOAA Weather Alerts – Severe Weather Push Notifications &Warnings

 

 

Step 2: Charge Up Smartphones, backup batteries and gather charging supplies: As soon as we heard about the Bay Area Storm, we set up a plan to get ready. First we made sure we had enough flashlights, batteries for flashlights, candles & matches, backup batteries for the phones and emergency supplies up to date.  The day before we charged up all of our phones and computers but also multiple back up batteries to use if power was out for an extended time.

 

Today (day of the storm) we are keeping our phones plugged while at home to keep the charge going.  We also made sure we had extra backup phone chargers and a full tank of gas just in case we did need to leave the house for an extended time. The type of extreme weather we prepared for is just power outages and minor flooding. I know friends in locations all over the world that have different steps and supplies for their weather emergencies. So it important for everyone to check with their local emergency services website or office to get the right list for their area.

 

 

 

Step 3:  Organize alternative WiFi and Devices:  Because extreme weather can effect home WiFi, I like to have another backup WiFi source.. For example, I use the AT&T Unite Pro as my alternative WiFi device that I can also take on the go which is important especially for emergencies.  Radio Shack has a great supply of weather radios that are important to have if all WiFi and cell coverage is down.

 

 

Eton weather radio

 

 

PLEASE SHARE YOUR TIPS IN PREPARING FOR EXTREME WEATHER! Every area has unique weather conditions to prepare for.

 

 

 

 

 

Tips To Help Kids Learn To Code #HourofCode

Tips For Kids To Learn To Code #HourofCode

 

I studied business in college but early on realized computer programming was my real passion. I took as many programming classes that I could but still wanted to get a business degree to help (at that time) get a job. Today coding programs are well developed not only in colleges but also primary schools across the country (world!) and coding is one of the top STEM related skills for getting a job. This week starts what is called  #HourofCode  to inspire students to learn to code, even if just for one hour: The ‘Hour of Code’ is a global movement by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming.”

 

After college my first job was in corporate finance, but after a few years I was able to switch over to the Computer Information Systems.  I started out as a programmer coding in a language called “COBOL”. I am proud that not only was COBOL co-invented by a woman ( Grace Murry Hopper) but also the first computer programmer was a women (Ada Lovelace).  I loved coding because it was very logical: you write a string of commands using the syntax of the programming language with the goal of automating a process. While I started programming on mainframe computers (workstations and servers networked together to process large amounts of information), today you can program on almost any device from a tablet to a personal computer. If you use the right syntax to carry out some sort of process, then it will work. If you do not use the right syntax or design an incorrect process then the program won’t work.

 

 

I enjoyed my programming jobs even if it meant going through lines and lines of code to find one letter or symbol that was wrong. I moved on to jobs in database design, international computer auditing, computer security consulting at one of the biggest firms in the world and then on to founding my own website. The ability to understand programming basics has opened up many career doors and opportunities. My love of technology has also kept my skills current because I enjoy learning new programming languages and social networking platforms (and invest my time doing so).  My website TechMamas.com is a wordpress blog that has a rich text option that takes care of programming behind the scenes (I just create my blog post like I would a word processing document). But I also do my own coding to fix blog post formatting and make design changes. Even knowing HTML has opened up so many opportunities for me!

 

I suggest every parent give their boys AND GIRLS the opportunity to learn how to code. Code.org is the main website with information and the President of the United States has a great kick-off video with more information:
 

 

One of the most important things said in the video was: “Don’t just consume things – create things”.  I feel it is important to show our kids, who are growing up in the digital age, that technology should not only be consumed but also used to create. Here are my tips to help kids create their own projects by learning to code. What are your tips?

 

Tip 1: Start younger kids on “drag and drop” then easiest programming languages first:
 
Learning to program requires patience, creativity and a realistic view of the time commitment.   Many kids are used to apps that have quick response to actions, but programming does not always have a quick response. In fact, most of the time coding is a slow process with a small outcome. But all of those small outcomes put together can lead to big amazing outcomes! Business Insider posted with a flow of languages kids should learn. This flow is something I agree with and have experienced with my own kids. My younger kids engaged better with drag and drop programming. My teen wanted something more sophisticated and signed up for a computer programming intro course that focused on Python.  I know many teens that program in Javascript and Ruby in Rails that even get part time jobs after school and summer internships because of their coding knowledge! Here is a flowchart I created inspired by the Business Insider post “The Best Programming Languages Every Beginner Should Learn” by .

 

Business Insider flow programming kids coding

 

Tip 2: Inspire Content Creation and have family time “low stress” fun: 

 
The next tip is to make learning to code a fun family activity and inspire kids with logical incentives if needed. It is important to participate with your child when they first learn to code and to be supportive when they need help. It is also important that learning to code is a fun activity, so if incentives are used they should be “positive” instead of punitive.  For example, our family logical incentives are creating technology projects (including coding, video, building, designing) will earn them screen time/consuming technology.

 

It is also important to help kids find the right type of programming language and platform to make learning fun – not all drag and drop are created equal!  We tried some drag and drop programming platforms that were confusing. Other platforms, like the ones mentioned in this post on Edutopia “15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code (Even Without a Computer)” such as MIT’s Scratch and Tynker, were fun and had a great interface. Both of my middle school twins enjoy using drag and drop programming and have now even moved on to platforms such as Youth Digital Minecraft Mod Design which give an introduction to Java programming through mod design.  Another online Minecraft Modding class is called ThoughtStem Minecraft Modding Class . There are inspirational programs such as Girls Who Code that  “inspires, educates, and equips girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities”  There are also sites such as Roblox and those explained in Common Sense Media coding section that offer ways for kids to create their own apps and games. I will cover the range of platforms available in a separate blog post because there are so many!  Luckily, the Code.org/Learn section also lists great coding websites for kids.

 

When parents ask me how to get their their kids started in programming I say:

Expose your kids to different computer programming languages (starting off with drag and drop for younger kids) and see if they have an interest in any of them. If not, see if they can just do some basic programming to understand how coding works. If they have an interest then your kids will initiate learning more about programming and developing their own skills. If not, help them find other ways to become a technology creator” 

 

When my teen took the Python class he did understand the basics but was not as interested in programming as he thought he would be. So we told him to do the best he could in the class and find other ways to be a technology “creator”. Knowing that he just needed to do the best instead of feeling the pressure to “master” programming helped him feel less stress while learning.  We wanted our son to discover what his technology passion was. Luckily it did not take our teen son long to figure out that his true passion was computer design (engineering). He can spend hours going over computer specifications and features. He loves to fix anything related to a computer and technology. He decided that his “creator” project would be building his own computer! So if your child is not excited about coding, he or she may be excited about computer design, photography, video editing or other ways to experience content creation. Finding your child’s passion will turn something that could be stressful – into a skill they develop on their own because they love doing it.

 

When kids have a passion to learn coding, online computer programming courses can help take learning to the next level. There are sites such as Code.org and Khan Academy which are geared towards kids but there are also an unlimited amount of courses for teens and adults that are either free or available to purchase. Some examples are Edx, Coursera, Udemy (like this course on Python), Curious (like Ruby on Rails and HTML/CSS) and many more. Parents that want to update their job skills could also participate in the #hourofcode and look into sites such as Udacity that has Nano Degrees.

 

This #HourofCode video from Khan Academy discusses all of the different things you can do if you learn to code, has coding challenges plus it gives you a great overview:
 

 

Here is the Khan Academy video on making web pages:
 

 

Click here for the full list of Khan Academy Computer Programming videos.

 

Most of all remember that every child has their own special skills, so it is important to help them find their path. If your child does have an interest in programming, then show them the world of opportunities available to them to learn coding online. If your child has no interest in programming then ask them “What are you interested in?” and help them pursue that path.  While one of my twins enjoys learning Javascript his true passion is History. He reads non fiction history books during his free time so we may also do an ” #hourofhistory ” this week as well!

 

 

3. Help kids understand the relation of technology skills to future job potential (but also low stress): 

 

Because my husband and I have tech jobs that we got based on our tech skills, we like to talk to our kids about all of the different types of tech jobs (and other jobs) that utilize tech skills.   Having a basic understanding of programming and technology can be a prerequisite for many careers. It is also important to help them understand that programming can be challenging. My earlier career as a computer programmer helped me understand the reality of the commitment. Another Business Insider article titled “A Programmer Describes How He Nearly Went Insane Learning To Code” shows the reality of having a career in programming.

 

At the same time, there are unlimited examples of how kids that were truly interested in programming and engineering created amazing things. Kimberley Bryant, Founder of Black Girls Code, shared that when she was a freshman in Electrical Engineering that Fortran and Pascal were the popular programming languages (Note: I studied Fortran in college). Marissa Mayer earned a Bachelor of Science in symbolic systems and Master of Science in computer science and went on to become Google’s first female Engineer. Mark Zuckerberg’s programming skills helped him create Facebook. Bill Gates was 13 when he first got access to a computer and before he knew it- he and some friends were teaching the programming class. Even NBA Superstars like Chris Bosh believe that everyone should learn to code.

 

Are you going to have a family coding day this week? Sam Patterson posted on Edutopia with some ideas for that!

 

 

 

 

 

Kurbo Health App Empowers Kids To Eat Healthy

Kurbo Health App

 

 

A top concern shared by the parents of growing children is making sure their kids eat healthy and exercise frequently. But distinguishing healthy food as well as empowering and educating kids to choose healthy options is a real challenge. Teens and pre-teens enjoy sports but may not understand what amount of exercise is needed each day. My kids are open to eating healthy but are more attracted to unhealthy foods (as many kids are). We serve healthy foods at home but at times it come off as “nagging” parents. We want our kids to understand the importance of healthy foods and make good choices on their own, so we started involving our kids in the process of cooking while exposing them to healthy food choices at home and at restaurants. In the end, what was missing was the link between eating healthy, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. With diabetes and heart issues in our extended families health history, it was important to link all this together.

 

 

Kurbo - Traffic Light Food Classification System

Photo Credit: Kurbo

This summer I signed up to beta test a new app called Kurbo,  which is based off of the Traffic Light Classification System developed at Stanford University. The Traffic Light System, that many parents have already seen in nutrition books, separates foods into either red, yellow or green. Green foods (GO) are the healthier foods you can eat more often, be cautious with yellow foods (Slow Down) and red foods need to be limited each day (Stop and Think). Kurbo also has a personalized approach which includes the use of live coaches to assist in the overall  process of setting and monitoring goals for each child. There are also games and videos to help educate and entertain along the way.

 

For example, some kids may have goals focused on losing weight while others will have goals focused on learning the components of eating healthy and how much exercise they need each day (like my twin boys). While I kept asking my boys to make sure they were eating their vegetables, they did not really understand how much they needed. Even though healthy options like Avocado were in the red category, we also wanted them to learn the difference between healthy and non healthy fats – and the need to watch the overall amount of fat each day in a balanced diet. With exercise, they did not understand the concept that just playing sports once or twice a week was enough exercise. Some sports do not even provide that much real exercise. One example is baseball, a sport I later learned exercise instructors call “the lazy sport”.

 

 

 

Kurbo Health App

Photo Credit: Kurbo

 

 

Here is how Kurbo works:

“1. Track foods & activities with our app:  Kurbo’s fun, easy-to-use app helps children and teens track what they eat, as well as how much they exercise. Each time your child enters a food, it’s classified using our clinically acclaimed traffic light system. The app also has virtual coaching and introduces important concepts such as food classification, portion size, and planning ahead with videos, games, weekly challenges, and messages.

2. Increase success with live text or video coaching: Kurbo’s human coaching gives your child the opportunity to have one of our weight loss experts interact with your child. The coach uses the data your child enters in to the mobile app each week to review your child’s food and exercise choices from the previous week, then makes actionable suggestions—including concrete goals—for the week ahead.

3.  Measure, track, improve, and enjoy your new life: Tracking food and exercise in conjunction with meeting goals will ensure that this is a true lifestyle change. The goal of Kurbo is to make it so you don’t need Kurbo again.”

 

 

Here is a link to the Kurbo page where they show success stories.

 

We had a busy summer so we only had a short time to beta test. But even using Kurbo’s app plus personalized coaching for a short time helped kick off my twin boy’s abililty to manage their own healthy habits. I enjoyed that I could step out of the process and let their coach give them tips.  Kurbo helped them learn that they were not eating enough fruits and vegetables each day. The app also helped them see they were not always getting the minimum 30 minutes of exercise each day, which made them find new ways to exercise to reach their goals.  One of my son’s requested to have an exercise routine planned out by a fitness trainer so that we can start working out as a family.

 

Exercise

 

 

Next we started making “mix your own ingredients” salads, soups and stews so we could eat a healthy dinner that everyone could enjoy. We even experimented with vegan options such as smoked tempeh and veggie sausage.

 

 

A photo posted by BethB (@techmamas) on

 

 

Then we made a goal of cooking healthy as a fun family event. So we started cooking more at home together and signed up for cooking classes we could take together.

 

A photo posted by BethB (@techmamas) on

 

 

We also decided that although the school lunches had healthy options, they did not have enough fruits and vegetables included (we learned with the Kurbo food tracking features). This inspired me to start making my twin boys their own school lunches loaded with fruit and vegetables. While this is a time investment, it has high ROI because my kids end up eating healthy, are full and energized to make it through the school day. I will be creating a series of posts (coming soon) with the pictures and information on the fun and easy school lunches that my kids actually enjoy! They even ask me when choosing food at restaurants which dishes have enough fruits and vegetables.

 

A photo posted by BethB (@techmamas) on

 

 

 

The Kurbo App helped guide our family to start making healthy changes with strategies to reach our goals.  We only had the opportunity to use Kurbo during the beta phase so we can’t wait to try the app again to reach new goals!

 

 

Disclosure: This is a press post.

 

 

 

 

Tips To Find A Gift That Lasts

 

I look at holiday gifting not only as a time for fun gifts but also to invest in practical gifts that can be enjoyed past the holidays. On my top holiday shopping tips is to look at the full list of what you, your family and loved ones need and make sure to include those in gift lists as well.

 

For example, woodworking equipment to work on family DIY projects? How about new cooking appliances for family cooking projects? What self improvement do you and your family want to accomplish over the year?  Or does someone on your gift list want to find ways to read more, so maybe a Kindle would be a gift of reading?  One thing I hear from many people is that they need an upgrade mobile device, a great holiday fit is a new tablet or laptop (especially with all of the holiday deals!). Most of all, don’t forget to include charity in gift giving. We ask our kids to help identify charities that they want to “gift” such as Toys For Tots and many others.

 

Health and wellness are tops on the priority list not just for our family but also many of our loved ones. So we also look into that category for gifts. One gift idea is buying your family a membership to a local health club as a way to gift fitness throughout the year. Or how about gifting sports related items for loved ones who wants to take up a new sport (for example, new running sneakers)? We are also looking giving our kids a membership to the local climbing gym as a fun family activity that also involves fitness. A mom friend of mine wants to do yoga but does not have the time to attend classes, so an at-home yoga program would be a great holiday gift for her.

 

Dental health is a gift that lasts because smiles are so priceless. I am looking into a new electronic toothbrush for my husband who wants a quick and effective way to brush in the morning. We are also looking into smart toothbrushes for our kids so they can grade their own brushing (leaving mom and dad out of it!). They like anything that connects to apps so smart toothbrushes could make brushing more fun for them.  My younger son has seen my older son wearing Teen Invisalign and wants them when he is ready for them. He said it would be a gift not to wear painful metal braces!

 

What other holiday gifts do you know of that can last throughout the year?

 

Disclosure: I am a member of the Invisalign Teen Mom Advisory Board. My teen has received complimentary treatment from Align, but all opinions expressed are my own. Here is information on the Invisalign smile assessment, treatment process and how to find a Doctor.

 

 

 

#MomsWithApps And TechMamas Holiday App Gift Tips

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Moms With Apps and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

 

MomWithApps TechMamas  Gift Guide Tips

 

 

Parents and those looking for gifts for kids have so many options. But one option that will always please and is very budget friendly are the gift of apps. At the same time, there are many apps that are either not age appropriate, low quality or can rack up extra charges from in-app purchases. Moms With Apps is one of my top websites for finding high-quality apps for kids. I am excited to team up with them to share tips for giving apps as holiday gifts.

 

Mom With App Top 5 Holiday App Gift Tips  :

 

1. Choose an App that will Top their Gift List:  It’s important to know what you and your child want from an app before downloading. When it comes to educational content, what exactly do you want your kids to learn? Letters? Math? Problem-solving skills? Secondly, what interests your child? Is it all about trucks these days? Or maybe they can’t get enough of farm animals. With Moms With Apps, parents can search for trustworthy apps in a variety of different subject areas, including science, math, reading and critical thinking.

 

2. Give the Gift of a Social Experience: Apps can teach kids how to be social. In fact, in a recent survey of more than 450 parents, 96% of parents believe that apps are beneficial to their child’s development. Look for an app that’s age-appropriate and engaging for the recipient. With a carefully selected app, children can interact with people online in a safe and fun way.

 

3. Pick with Privacy in Mind: App privacy is a huge concern for parents. A Federal Trade Commission report released earlier this year says close to 60 percent of apps designed for children collect and share personal information — and only 11 percent tell you they are actually doing it!  The great news is that there are many apps that are created with your children’s privacy in mind; you just need to know where to look. Moms With Apps only features developers who are committed to high standards for protecting kids’ privacy and disclose their policies in a clear and concise way.

 

4. Avoid the Gift that Keeps on Giving: How many of us have discovered that our children have made purchases within an app without our knowledge? Some free apps hook children with extra purchases to get extra features or to get to other levels in the game. Make sure you avoid this unpleasant surprise by reading all about the app and understanding whether “upgrades” are necessary to access certain aspects of the game.

 

5. Choose an App that Works in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: So what does this app need to work? Internet access? Battery power? Nimble thumbs? Think about whether “airplane mode” is important to you–do you need this app to function when you’re on the road or in the air and without Wi-Fi? Moms With Apps allows parents to search for apps that function in without an Internet connection, among other requirements.

 

TechMamas Top 5 Holiday App Gift Tips:

 

1. Buy Gift Cards To Set Budget: You can give gift cards such as iTunes, Google Play or Windows App Store to the kids on your gift list. For your own kids you can sit down together to decide on what apps they want to buy with the gift card ($10  for example). That discussion can help them understand the concept of setting budgets for buying apps. No matter how your kids buy apps, it is important (as mentioned above) to either not share the passwords if your kids are using devices with your accounts or if they have their own to not attach a credit card to the account.

 

2. Set Account Restrictions: All app stores offer the ability to have password verification before app purchases, but sometimes kids can guess passwords. That is why it is important to review and set account restrictions or parental controls for all mobile devices used for kids. In iTunes you can set a pin for account restrictions and turn in-app purchases to “off”. In Google Play you can filter content to settings such as “E” for everyone and set notifications to notify you by email of all purchases. Windows devices have parental controls.

 

3. Play Apps Together:  No matter how much I know about choosing apps, at times I find an app that looked good but then ends up either low quality, pushes in-app purchases as mentioned above or does not deliver on what the app described in the app store. One way to make sure you are finding good quality apps is to check out the apps vetted on Mom With Apps. Another way is to play the app with your child the first time they use it or even play it on your own.

 

 

4. Show Your Kids Creative Apps as Well as Games: Many kids know all about game and educational apps, but there are also creative apps. For a child who loves playing music, recommend a music making app. For kids that love WATCHING videos, suggest movie editing apps so they can make and edit their own videos (such as stop motion animation videos). Show your kids how to produce entertainment content instead of just consuming it.

 

5. App Accessories: When looking for giving apps as gifts consider adding accessories such as stylus brushes for painting on touchscreen devices or music digital interfaces that connect electric instruments to iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac/PC.

 

 

If you want to find out more tips, please join in the #MomsWithApps Twitter Party 12/3 12pm EST/9am PST.

 

Details

What: With more than one million apps to choose from, it can be hard to find the trustworthy apps that you know upfront your kids will learn from and enjoy. That’s where Moms With Apps comes in! Moms with Apps gives parents the power to choose the best apps for their kids. Their site features more than 285 developers and 885 apps that maintain high standards for protecting kids’ privacy, and allows you to filter by criteria like whether the app has advertising or works without an internet connection. It’s now easy to know what’s inside every app before you hit download!

 

Moms With Apps conducted a survey of more than 450 parents to get their thoughts on selecting apps with kids. We’ll be sharing their findings with you during this party! 

 

When: Wednesday, December 3 at 12 p.m. ET 

 

Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #MomsWithApps hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Vite: http://vite.io/themotherhood 

 

Hashtag: #MomsWithApps

 

Prizes: We will be giving away five prizes during this Twitter party to randomly selected participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Each prize includes a $50 Visa Gift card. Prizes limited to U.S. participants only.  

 

Hosts: @TheMotherhood, @TheMotherhood25, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

Co-hosts: @techsavvymama, @jessicamcfadd, @WellConnectdMom, @techmama, @melissanorthway, @littletechgirl, @daddymojo, @MamaDweeb

 

 

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Moms With Apps and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

Give the Gift of Giving Back #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday

 

Every Christmas Eve we have a family tradition that means the more to us then any gifts: cooking for a local homeless shelter. We work as a family to peel, cut and cook our famous sweet potato casserole (with pineapples and cinnamon) in big containers that we take over while still hot. We have a group that works together serving and the others cooking.  It is a family activity that we do together and our sons get the gift of learning to give back to their community. We also make decisions on what charities we give to as another family activity.

 

With all the focus on holiday gift shopping it is important to take a break to think about ways you can give back this holiday season.  Today is Giving Tuesday and many organizations and individuals are sharing how they are giving back. Here are some posts with links highlighting their favorite charities.

 

MommyPoppins is having a virtual food drive.

 

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations discussed the Shot@Life Campaign. The One Campaign also shares information about the Shot@Life and other important initiatives.

 

Estelle Sobel Erasmus shared a list of 54 writer’s charities on the Huffington Post.

 

Cool Mom Picks discussed Family Volunteer Opportunities.

 

MomTrends shared thoughts on putting joy in the season by giving.

 

#TeamBlogalicious shared their favorite picks from Giving Tuesday.

 

Jessica Shyba (@mommasgonecity #theoandbeau) has an adorable book “Naptime With Theo and Beau” and is donating proceeds to the Santa Cruz SPCA.

 

Glennia Campbell shared information about Advocates For Youth.

 

TechSavvyMama discussed Gifts that Give back for the holidays.

 

Jim Higley discussed #‎HelpCampKesem‬ to help youths with Cancer.

 

 

Please share charities that you support during the holidays!

 

 

 

Holiday 2014 Tech and Shopping Deals

Holiday Shopping Deals

This weekend starts what shoppers have been waiting for: Black Friday, Cyber Monday and December sales (also called “Cyber Month”). As I explained in my last post, “best time for holiday shopping deals“, deals are not only happening across the weekend and into Cyber Monday – but throughout the season. For those who enjoy shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend, then go for it and enjoy! For those who feel stressed, my advice is to pick a list of items you are looking for and then shop online over the next few weeks to find the best price. For some bigger priced items you can even wait for the “New Years clear inventory” sales that happen around the New Year. I purchased a TV for our garage/boy cave during a New Years sale and got a price better then I would have during the holiday sales.

 

For those braving the sales this weekend and want to shop online, a good place to start is your email inbox newsletters. If you signed up for any newsletters for the stores or brands, they have already probably sent out their Black Friday, Cyber Monday or holiday sales email newsletters.  For example, I shop at Athleta for fitness wear and when I checked my inbox I saw an email from them sharing their 20% Black Friday shopping code FIT20. Some of the other email newsletters, such as the one I received from Sur Le Table, talked about their in store discounts.  Many of the big retailers have in store sales that are not listed online so if you don’t mind shopping in crowds and have a big shopping list, it is a good time to stop by your favorite retailers.

 

I would also suggest supporting small businesses in your area by stopping by their stores or shopping online. Saturday (November 29) is a great day to celebrate small business owners by shopping on “Small Business Saturday #shopsmall“.  Etsy and Great.ly are sites with stores for small businesses. Huffington Post even has a post sharing “36 Black-Owned Etsy Stores For Black Friday“.  I also like to support women founded businesses such as Epiphanie and many others.  For example, a great local Silicon Valley designer of comfortable & versatile work clothes for women is Camilla Olsen. She has some of her designs on sale including the Maverick Dress.

 

Camilla Olsen Work Clothes For Women

 

 

There are websites such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday that aggregate deals.  When it comes to shopping blogs, my go-to website is Cool Mom Picks. The Cool Mom Picks Black Friday post listed a discount code for Epiphanie bags.  Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech also lists Cyber Monday deals. The teal Epiphanie tech/camera bag I had been coveting for some time was on clearance + 15% using the code in the Cool Mom Picks post!  What I like about the Epiphanie bags is that they are stylish and can hold tech gadgets securely. While my tech is getting lighter and lighter, I still need a secure bag to carry devices in so I am excited to try it out. Cool Mom Picks also has gift guides along with a site called Maker Mom which covers STEM gifts. Radio Shack has a great DIY section of the store for STEM holiday gifts and they have great holiday sales.

 

Epiphanie Tech Bag

 

For tech deals, I still suggest making your list first then looking at the deals. For example, I am interested in purchasing the Canon EOS 70D DSLR to capture high quality pictures and video on travel blogging trips. For now, the price is out of my budget even with the Black Friday sale prices of $200 off.  I did find budget friendly tech devices and accessories on sale as holiday bundles. For example, Costco, Amazon and other retailers has a great list of camera’s on sale for the holidays that come bundled with lenses and accessories that really make it a deal. But there are many categories of tech on sale so if you are looking check tech blogs such as CNET, The Verge, Tom’s Guide, Ubergmizo for Apple – Samsung & Lenovo, Chip Chick, Cool Mom Tech and more for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday tech deals. The Rather Be Shopping blog has great tips for Cyber Monday including using the Black Friday sales as a benchmark. Gizmodo has a post with The Best Cyber Monday (tech) Deals“. Fashion and shopping bloggers also have curated Cyber Monday and holiday summaries like this one from my friends at Lunchpails & Lipstick.

 

Calvin Klein Women's Long Packable Metallic Down  Coat While on the Amazon website looking for tech deals I also saw a jacket I was coveting in their fashion section on sale (Calvin Klein Women’s Long Packable Metallic Blue Down Coat – great for my business trips because it fits in a bag). During NYFW 2014 I remember Sarah Jessica Parker wearing a metallic blue Calvin Klein trench coat. While designer collection jackets are not in my budget, this jacket was with a sale price $100 off the regular price. I purchased that as well as finding a great selection of sales clothes for my kids online. This is a good time to find clothes and shoe sales for the whole family. On my post from a recent tech show called Pepcom, I also listed some of the new cool technology that would be good to look out for holiday sales. That post also listed a new app called Totspot that offer the ability to sell gently used kid’s clothes (that your kids grew out of) if you want to fund new purchases or find a fun assortment of kid’s used clothes for the holidays.

 

Another category to keep an eye on during holiday sales is home improvement. Do you need a new appliances, rugs or home electronics? Do you want to automate home processes with some smart home tech? The Nest Thermostat that is $50 off and now works with Life 360 to allow you to turn on the heat when the kids come home! Belkin has sales throughout the holiday season and their WEMO Home automation works with appliances like a crockpot and a coffee maker!

 

Another type of gift either for yourself or a loved one is the gift of learning. Curious.com has online video lessons include a range of subjects from tech to how-to DIY projects and an active community.  Their current holiday sale ends Cyber Monday.

 

Here are some of the other tech deals:

 

 

Along with your regular shopping, Amazon devices are also on sale via their press release. Giving the gift of reading devices is a gift that keeps on giving!:

  • Kindle (deal running 11/27-11/29): All-new Kindle – featuring a touchscreen display, a 20% faster processor, and twice the storage. Kindle e-readers are lightweight and easy to hold, measure battery life in weeks, not hours, and allow for reading with no glare even in bright sunlight. 
  • Kindle Paperwhite (deal running 11/27-11/29) : Kindle Paperwhite is one of Amazon’s most popular Kindles, with a touchscreen that has no screen glare in bright sunlight, a battery that lasts for weeks, not hours, and a built-in light that allows you to read without eyestrain.
  • Kindle Unlimited/Kindle Bundle (deal running 11/27-11/29): Better together: Get the $79 Kindle and 6-months of Kindle Unlimited for just $79 or Kindle Paperwhite and 6-months of Kindle Unlimited for just $129. Kindle Unlimited offers unlimited reading from over 700,000 books, including best sellers like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Landing page:
  • Fire HD (Fire HD 6 deal running 11/27-11/29; Fire HD 7 deal running 11/27-12/1): The new Fire HD tablets are available in both 6” and 7” and five color choices – black, white, cobalt, magenta, and citron. The new Fire HD, features a quad-core processor, front and rear-facing cameras, an HD display and a world-class ecosystem of exclusive features, services, and content.
  • Fire phone (deal running 11/25-12/1): The Fire phone is now available unlocked.  The unlocked Fire phone works with GSM carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Metro PCS and Cricket and for a limited time only is only $199. Fire phone includes a full year of Amazon Prime membership for access to Amazon’s vast digital ecosystem and unlimited photo cloud storage as well as exclusive features like Mayday, Second Screen and X-Ray.

These deals are available while supplies last. For additional information and a full list of Amazon Black Friday deals, visit www.amazon.com/blackfriday.”

 

Dyson:

 

Dyson Black Friday

 

 

 

Target:

Target black friday

 

 

Microsoft:

  • $100 off Surface Pro 3 i5: Available through Microsoft retail stores, Microsoftstore.com, Best Buy and other select retailers.
  • $150 off Surface Pro 3 i7 or Surface 2: Available through Microsoft retail stores, Microsoftstore.com, Best Buy and other select retailers.
  •  $99 Lumia 830 Fitbit bundle: The new Nokia Lumia 830 is available in the U.S. at www.att.com and in AT&T retail stores, and at MicrosoftStore.com and Microsoft Store retail locations. For a limited time, while supplies last, customers who purchase a Lumia 830 also receive a free Fitbit Flex ($99.99 value).
  • Xbox One available starting at $349: This offer is available nationwide at participating retailers. For more details on this promotion, visit Xbox Wire or contact your local retailer.
  •  $99 ASUS EeeBook X205TA: Available at Staples.

 

The press updated shared that the Fire Hose Blog has information holiday season’s deals and to check back for more details on Cyber Monday offerings.

 

The  YouGov holiday survey commissioned by Microsoft had some interesting information about electronic etiquette:

 

Electronic Etiquette

  • 41% of Americans confess to secretly checking their phone under the table during a holiday gathering
  • 33% of American parents try to limit their kids’ technology use during the holidays. However, 75% of American parents are likely to post to social media during a holiday gathering.
  • 42% of Americans say thank you for a gift they received via text or social media instead of mail or email.

 

My last tip involves not only setting up time for the important shopping but also setting up time to relax, enjoy friends/family and unplug during the holidays.  Turn off notifications for all smart devices and leave smartphones in your wallet, bag or pockets when socializing. Unplugging from shopping and tech is important to make sure we are spending uninterrupted time with family and friends or just spending time being mindful to do events in real life that cause you joy. As a parent I realize that I am a role model for my kids so I need to help them adjust to their connected world by teaching them the art of unplugging as well.

 

 

Happy shopping and but also happy “unplugging” this holiday weekend. We are off to do family exercise and then working on building some new wood chairs for our back yard. Yesterday we had all three boys helping cook Thanksgiving dinner from scratch (cooking is a great family activity to unplug).

 

*I will add more information about holiday sales below as I find them! Please share your favorite deals!

 

 

 

Pepcom Holiday Tech Showcase 2014

Pepcom Holiday SpectacularAt CES and holidays I am always excited to head to Pepcom events to check out the new technology related products out. On the night of the World Series I braved the traffic to head to San Francisco for the Pepcom Holiday Spectacular. Because the holiday season is so busy I have not had a chance to review any of the products but here are some of the interesting ones in the family technology area.

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Pepcom Holiday Spectacular! Exhibitors:

24/7
24/7 is a medical grade sleep and activity tracking application, their new new features include giving users more insight into their sleep than ever before.

 

 

ArcSoft
ArcSoft will be showing Simplicam powered by Closeli, a home monitoring solution with facial detection. They also had information on Perfect365 – which uses Face Detection technology to scan a photo and automatically map a person’s eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth and hairline. Then photos are treated with touch-ups, using nearly 20 tweaking tools that whiten teeth, brighten eyes, remove blemishes and other editing. They can also choose from dozens of pre-set makeup templates.

 

 

Belkin
Belkin International showcased a great selection of holiday tech products from its three brands, Belkin, Linksys and WeMo.  I was especially interested in their WeMo family of products that offers home automation, such as in a remote controlled Crock Pot!

Crock-Pot® Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo  Belkin

 

I also learned about their Linksys Dual Band WiFi router and how I could possibly swap that out for the default router my home WiFi provider gave us to help power up our wireless reception (and maybe also using a WiFi extender to help rooms far away from the router).

 

Belkin Linksys

 

Belkin also had some gift guide suggestions:

 

GIFTS UNDER $50
Metallic Lightning Cables
$24.99 – $29.99
Vent Mount $24.99
Phone Accessories
$24.99 – $34.99

 

GIFTS UNDER $300
Thunderbolt™ 2 Express Dock HD
with Cable $299.99
Linksys WRT1900AC $249.99
Linksys EA9200 AC3200 Tri-Band Smart Wi-Fi Router $299.99

 

GIFTS UNDER $150
Crock-Pot® Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo® $129.99
QODE™ Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case for iPad Air $149.99
WeMo® LED Lighting Starter Set $99.99
Mr. Coffee® 10-Cup Smart Optimal Brew™ Coffeemaker with WeMo® $149.99
Linksys Dual Band Wireless AC Range Extender RE6500 $99.99

 

 

Chamberlain Group – MyQ Garage
Chamberlain Group showed MyQ Garage, the connected home device for controlling home entry. “A smart home with MyQ ensures people never forget to close the garage door and can open, close and monitor it from anywhere in the world from a smartphone. MyQ is integrated with Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat, multiple home devices through the WinkApp, and other popular connected home apps.”

 

 

Channel Master
Channel Master debuted new features and services for the DVR+ platform, as well as a new ultra-low-cost outdoor television antenna. They were also the most popular table because they had the World Series on! Channel Masters new features for its subscription-free DVR+ include YouTube access and an enhanced DVR feature to record only new episodes of a series. The company also added the new low-cost STEALTHtenna to its metro/suburban-centric Everyday Series antenna line along with a consumer-friendly Antenna Selection Guide.  Coming in November, the YouTube streaming feature will appear in the DVR+ program guide.

 

 

 

Cobra
Cobra Electronics showcased “the addition to the company’s Drive HD Dash Cams series, Cobra CDR 825, utilizing a 2.7 inch screen, the largest in the dash cam family, along with the ultra-compact Cobra JumPack, a pocket-sized, portable charger for mobile devices and vehicle jump-starter.” Cobra also displayed some Walkie Talkies that I know my boys would have loved to try.

 

 

Creative Labs
Creative Labs has home, mobile, and gaming audio products. I was especially interested to hear about their E5 product that can be used an microphone to capture audio for me when I do video. Here is more information from their press release:

Their Professional-Grade Sound Blaster® E5  is a “24-bit/192kHz 120dB High Resolution USB DAC and Portable Headphone Amplifier for Smartphones, Tablets, PCs & Macs:

 

  • Digital High-Speed USB 2.0 connectivity to PC/Mac as a powerful external Sound Blaster
  • Digital USB Host connectivity to select iOS/Android models for direct high quality, lossless audio streaming*
  • Built-in rechargeable 3200mAh lithium polymer battery provides users up to 8 hours^ of playtime while on the go
  • Features wireless Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy connectivity and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for one-touch Bluetooth pairing and control
  • Supports HD audio codecs such as aptX® Low Latency and AAC for a wireless connection as good as a wired connection
  • Connects to entertainment devices such as televisions and game consoles via the optical input jack
  • Features a line-in option for analog connectivity to other various audio sources
  • Dual headphone jacks allow for simultaneous audio listening

Compatible with:      

- iOS devices using Lightning connector (iPhone 5, 5S, 5C, iPad Air, iPad Mini)

- Android devices (Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, Note 2, Note 3; Google Nexus 5, Nexus 7; Sony Xperia Z Ultra; Xiaomi Redmi, Redmi Note, Mi 3; LG G2)

**Actual battery life will vary with usage scenarios, settings and environmental conditions

 

The new flagship product is an extension of Sound Blaster’s E-Series line of compact portable USB audio solutions.  Launched in May 2014, the Sound Blaster E-Series includes the Sound Blaster E1 and Sound Blaster E3.”

 

 

ecoATM
ecoATM showed their “automated e-waste recycling kiosk that accepts cell phones, tablets and MP3 players from consumers in exchange for instant cash.” Listed below is an image they shared on what you could buy for holiday gifts from what you get back from trading in specific devices. I have not tried the service but I think trading in old devices are a great way to earn money to buy new devices instead of them sitting in a cabinet collecting dust! ecoATM, the nationwide network of 1,510 automated recycling kiosks, give’s users instant cash for their phones, tablets and MP3 players.

 

ecoATM

 

 

 

Fitbug
Fitbug Orb is a fitness, sleep and activity tracker.  They unveiled Kiqplan, a library of interactive coaching programs that use activity data from almost ANY activity tracker, smartphone or watch to build actionable 12 week plans around specific wellness goals.

 

 

Fujitsu
Fujitsu showcased their ScanSnap product lineup, including the new mobile and completely wireless scanner, the ScanSnap iX100. Included in the ScanSnap family line is the ScanSnap iX500 desktop scanner.

 

 

Kensington
Kensington has USB Hubs, Adapters, USB Chargers and Universal Soft Sleeves as well as new iPad Air™ 2 Keyboard Cases. Their PresentAir Pro Bluetooth® 4.0 LE Presenter “offers three different function modes to support different types of activity presenting, controlling media, or editing and offers one of the slimmest presenter designs on the market. The free downloadable companion app, PresenterWorks, allows users to set buttons to the functions of their choice for greater flexibility and efficiency.”

 

 

Kingston
Kingston Technology showcased holiday gifts ideas including the MobileLite G2 wireless media reader, SD and Micro SD cards and a HyperX Cloud gaming headset that offers extended hours of game play.

 

 

KODAK PIXPRO
KODAK PIXPRO featured cameras and wireless devices including the new SP360 Action Cam, an HD action cam designed to capture 360-degrees of video without the need for multiple cameras.

 

 

Lenovo
Lenovo had a few tables filled with their newest devices.

 

Lenovo at Pepcom

 

 

Some of the devices I spent time looking at where the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 and Tablet 2 Pro, B40 All in One, Y50 Touch mobile gaming and multimedia notebook. But the one I drooled over was the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro because it has powerful features but is thin, light and so fancy!

 

Lenovo Yoga 3

 

 

LifeTrak
LifeTrak showcased their line of wearables, including the new LifeTrak BRITE R450, that features light exposure monitoring, smartphone notifications, advanced sleep monitoring and fitness tracking, is waterproof and requires no recharging. The battery used for the device is a watch battery!

 

LifeTrak

 

Logitech
Logitech will be showcasing its latest in gaming, music, tablet, Harmony and PC accessories.

 

 

muvee
The new iOS app TWINE “makes short split-screen videos. Capture opposite or parallel moments in time and TWINE automatically stitches them together“.

 

 

Otterbox
OtterBox will be showcasing protective cases for the recently released iPhone 6, GALAXY Note 4 and more.

 

 

Parallels
Parallels Access app (for iPad, iPhone, Android tablets and phones plus Kindle Fire) “lets you access everything on your PC or Mac just like it was made for your touch-based device (a way to run Windows on your Mac without rebooting).

 

 

Plantronics
Plantronics will be showcasing its new line of consumer, stereo and Bluetooth products including the new BackBeat PRO – wireless, active noise canceling stereo headphones with mic.

 

 

Plantronics Backbeat Pro

 

 

RadioShack
RadioShack has the latest in sound, toys, power and smart tech for gifting or for upgrading your own tech this holiday season.  I went to the press event to celebrate the interactive remodel of San Francisco Bay Area (and other locations) Radio Shack stores.  I was really impressed with the selection of tech in the new design. Especially their DIY section that had so many DIY tech projects that my boys could keep busy for a long time!

 

Here is information about the Radio Shack store redesign:

  • Innovative products from startups and inventors, such as mobile device-controlled robot ball Sphero, educational magnetic circuit boards from littleBits and Lively’s activity sensors that create a smart home for older adults to log daily routines
  • An interactive speaker wall where customers can shop and compare different speakers using music installed on in-store tablets
  • Experiential displays that enable shoppers to find and compare products, including headphone demo stations where they can listen to leading brands like SOL REPUBLIC, Skullcandy and Beats by Dr. Dre; in-demand devices from Apple, Samsung and HTC; a remote control (RC) toy exploration center; and a GoPro camera display demonstrating the capabilities of several models of GoPro cameras
  • Technology that makes shopping interesting and playful, like touchscreens and apps that help shoppers understand the benefits of products
  • Full mobility offerings from top mobile carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon with flexible financing plans available all under one roof
  • Helpful, informative RadioShack staff who can answer shoppers’ questions about hundreds of products and services and direct customers to the items that meet their specific needs.

 

 

ResMed
S+ by ResMed: a non-contact sleep system that monitors, analyzes and provides personalized feedback to help improve your sleep from the first night.

 

 

Ring
Ring Video Doorbell “lets you answer the door from anywhere using your smartphone. It features an HD camera with night vision, providing a clear view from your front door, day and night.”

 

 

simplehuman
simplehuman builds smart home-tech that is “simple, functional, and built to last“. I tested the sensor trashcan they had on display and it really was able to tell the different between me waving my hand to open the trashcan versus just walking by. The other brand sensor trashcan I tried kept opening up when I would just walk by it.. Next time I will try simplehuman!

 

Simple Human

 

 

Speck
As a leader in slim protective cases for mobile devices, Speck will be showing its latest bulk-free cases in smashing good looks. Their candy shell smartphone cases have been great protection in the past when I dropped my phones (just a few times…).

 

Speck

 

 

TiVo
TiVo showcased the TiVo Roamio OTA, the over-the-air DVR and TiVo Mega.

 

 

Totspot
Totspot is a mobile shopping app for moms to buy and sell gently used kids’ clothes.  I think this is a great tool for families to control clothing budgets for their kids – who grow out of clothes so quickly. And also to find great clothes for their kids!  “Totspot solves the age-old challenge every parent faces when outfitting their growing soccer stars and fashionistas – kids grow, clothes don’t. The free app has an intuitive interface designed to be simple and fast, and supports easy mom-to-mom mobile retailing, giving families a simple way to cash in their kids’ closets and keep little ones toddler-trendy and fashion-forward. Totspot (http://www.totspot.me) is currently available as a free app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and Android.

 

Totspot

 

Totspot

 

 

TripIt
TripIt booth is a trip planner keeps travel plans in one spot with features such as custom itineraries, sharing features, travel alerts, alternative flight info,  flight refunds and a travel dashboard.

 

 

Velvetwire
Velvetwire showcased the Powerslayer Blu – an Bluetooth-connected charger with built-in software that “reduces energy waste and promotes battery health”.

 

Velvetwire

 

 

ZAGG
ZAGG Inc highlighted their newest accessories for protecting and enhancing handheld electronics.

InvisibleSHIELD GLASS and HDX: Features HD clarity and 3X greater shatter protection for even industry-leading smartphone glass.

  • GoLite power series: A family of portable batteries will charge any device that utilizes a USB, including smartphones and tablets.
  • iFrogz InTone earbuds: Feature a smooth surface which rests comfortably on the ear while their 14mm driver delivers vibrant sound.”

 

 

Disclosure: This is coverage of a tech press event.