Ever feel like you need an extra pair of hands when you go out with your baby? Hannah Cardozo gives you the lowdown on ‘Ella’, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered smart stroller that might be the solution to your problem!
Parenting can be a daunting and overwhelming journey, especially if you are new to it. You have to worry about food, clothing, the perpetual mess and incomplete chores. Add to this, going outside with your newborn. Trying to accomplish all of this while simultaneously enjoying the moment is not easy. Well, parents, fear not; you are not alone.
In this fast paced world, it only makes sense that someone would find a way to lighten the load with the help of technology. Anne Hunger and Kevin Huang are the founders of the baby gear start-up ‘GlüxKind’ which means “lucky child” in German. ‘GluxKind’ has introduced the world to ‘Ella’, the first innovative AI-powered stroller with self-driving capabilities.
Hunger and Huang came up with the idea when they became parents in 2020 and felt that the strollers available in the market weren’t modern enough. “When we were stroller shopping, that’s when we realized, wow, all the products on the market, even the most popular ones, were really lacking in a lot of the safety tech that we take for granted in cars,” Huang recollects.
“We were mind-blown that there’s nothing that’s smarter than what they used to be like 50 years ago,” Hunger reveals.
They wanted parents to be able to complete daily chores while also being able to live in the moment and ensure the safety of their children. Anne Hunger mentions that the stroller “lends you an extra pair of eyes and hands while you are on-the-go.” Huang adds, “With ‘Ella’, we aim to make parenting easier, starting with the key piece of equipment, the baby stroller. We want to embolden parents to create their own paths on their parenting journey.”
They showcased this product at the Consumer Electronics Show that took place in Las Vegas at the beginning of January 2023. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered smart stroller won the CES Innovation Award Honouree title. ‘Ella’ received the top score in the Vehicle Tech and Advanced Mobility category, and was recognized as the most innovative product of 2023.
Some of the key defining features of this smart stroller are push assist, hands-free cruising, brake assist, and auto parking, so it will enable parents and their kids to explore the world effortlessly. It uses robotics and machine learning to improve safety, usability and comfort; and also comes with a detachable bassinet and car seat options. ‘Ella’ is also designed to work with a companion app for controls and has a ‘find-my-baby’ feature that lets you track the stroller if someone else is out with your baby.
If the smartness of this stroller concerns you, rest assured that every detail has been well thought-out. The self-driving feature enabled by the Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) is only in action when the baby is not occupying it. This comes in handy when your baby doesn’t want to be seated anymore; he/she may want to be held or walk around, and this feature allows you to not worry about pushing the stroller along as well.
Another noteworthy feature is the multi-level braking system that will intelligently stop the stroller if the person halts while in hands-free mode. The stroller comes to a stop if it is in an unfamiliar environment in self-driving mode and waits for the user’s input to continue. So it will not just roll out and onto the street. Onboard sensors also alert the person who is pushing it through sounds and lights flashing in the handle, thanks to cameras surrounding the frame, when encountering obstacles or potential dangers such as approaching cars, bikes or scooters.
The ‘Ella’ stroller was designed to move on any terrain; be it slopes, rocky roads, or even icy sidewalks. It has a dual-motor drive system which makes that possible, similar to the way pedal-assisted electric bikes work. The stroller’s speed is capped at about 7 kph or a little over 4 mph. It is designed in a way whereby you would be able to complete chores without having to worry about all the excess baggage.
The co-founders hope that ‘Ella’ could support fellow busy parents. Hunger mentions, “We really want parents to be able to be more present [and] spend more quality time with their kids, and use their energy for the interaction and bonding with their kids rather than having to multitask.”
Besides its safety and durability features, it also includes an automatic “rock-my-baby” mode and a built-in white noise machine that is meant to stimulate the feeling of being in the womb, so your baby can fall asleep anywhere and you don’t have to worry about messing up sleep schedules, giving you a moment of rest.
The ‘Ella’ still requires additional certification testing in America, but Glüxkind will launch a kickstarter campaign in Spring; they are already accepting pre-orders and plan to roll out a limited batch of certified products in the U.S by June 2023, according to Huang. The approximate cost of the stroller at launch time is around US$3,300.
AI does not guarantee us perfection. But, it can make our lives easier. Since this is a product founded by two parents, it gives us hope that safety measures have been thoroughly thought out and tested. This stroller does lighten your burden, but it must be used conscientiously. The price point, while on the higher end, is pretty similar to that of a luxury stroller which wouldn’t give you any of these features. All in all, this is a win for parents and an investment worth considering.