CES 2019: “Family tech” gadgets appeal to parental anxiety

LAS VEGAS — Every year, the CES gadget show brings more devices promising to make life a little bit easier for harried parents.

Sure, the kids might love them too: who wouldn’t want a computerized Harry Potter wand that also teaches coding? The Las Vegas show’s growing “family tech” sector encompasses products that range from artificially intelligent toys and baby monitors to internet-connected breast pumps.

Their common thread is an appeal to parental anxiety about raising smart kids, occupying their time, tracking their whereabouts and making sure they’re healthy and safe.

Some also come with subtle trade-offs. “Technology makes us forget what we know about life,” said psychologist Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies people’s relationships with machines. She’s particularly concerned about robots that seek to befriend or babysit young children.


Take the cute, furry Woobo, meant to be a real-life version of a child’s imaginary friend that can help set tooth-brushing routines, answer complex questions and play educational games. It’s part of a new cottage industry of sociable toys, which includes robots like Cozmo and Sony’s dog-like Aibo.

A gentle pull at the ears switches the screen-faced Woobo into listening mode. The $149 toy talks in a child-like voice and makes a game out of boring chores that might otherwise require a parent’s nagging. Its makers say Woobo doesn’t glue kids to its screen because it invites them to go find things in the home, help parents cook dinner or play family games like charades.

“Our focus on the content side is not to replace parents,” said Shen Guo, who co-founded Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Woobo after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. “It’s to enhance family time.”

But its appeal for a child’s emotional attachment and nurturing sets off alarm bells for Turkle, who has been warning against …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Early returns on Utah County visioning project: Water, traffic, air quality concerns should guide growth

PROVO — Utah County residents say high moral fiber and safe neighborhoods are the most critical building blocks to maintain high quality of life as leaders start planning for an expected 1 million new residents in the valley in coming decades.

And, the group of about 1,500 respondents underscored traffic/congestion and poor air quality as the issues that will have the greatest negative impacts on their collective quality of life in the future.

That feedback is part of an initial data set gathered by organizers of the Valley Visioning project, an effort launched in November aiming to navigate the impacts of the coming influx of new residents and their attendant needs in housing, employment, education, recreation and transport.

Projections anticipate that a full third of the expected 3 million new residents who will call Utah home in the next 50 years will make their way to Utah County. And, Utah County could surpass Salt Lake County in total population by 2065.

Valley Visioning co-chairman and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Val Hale, told the Deseret News on launch of the project that the scale of the expected growth requires a careful, forward-looking plan to ensure that quality-of-life issues are not undermined amid the population explosion.

“Utah County has always had a lot of land to work with and has been able to build out and grow in really unfettered ways,” Hale said. “But, those days are now past. We know the population will double in the next 30 years, and if the Utah Valley is going to continue to be a great place to live we need to plan for, and prepare for, that growth.

“We need to be purposeful and smart about the way that happens.”

The first set of resident feedback assembled by the project, which is being coordinated by …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

New transcontinental railroad exhibits open at Utah Capitol

SALT LAKE CITY — Two of three new exhibits highlighting different aspects of the transcontinental railroad are now open at the Utah Capitol, part of Utah’s Spike 150 initiative.

The first transcontinental railroad was completed May 10, 1869, when the Union and Central Pacific railroads were joined with a golden spike at Promontory Summit in Utah — where the Golden Spike National Historic Site is today.

The first exhibit, titled “A World Transformed: The Transcontinental Railroad and Utah,” explores the impact the transcontinental railroad had on individual Utahns.

“The people of Utah really contributed a lot to the transcontinental railroad,” said Dan Davis, the head curator for the exhibit and Utah State University’s special collections and archives photograph curator. “Utah was really important to both railroads.”

The exhibit puts on display how integral Utahns were in the process, Davis said.

Silas Walker, Deseret News

Photos from an exhibit on the first transcontinental railroad are pictured at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. The railroad is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

“Utah really is the central focus of the transcontinental railroad in a lot of ways,” he said.

Another important contribution to the railroads were the Chinese railroad workers — the theme of the second exhibit on display at the Capitol.

“It’s time for us to tell our ancestors’ story and our Chinese immigration story,” said Jie Xu, the secretary for the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association.

The association sponsored the second exhibit, which is named “Tracing the Path: Chinese Railroad Workers and the First Transcontinental Railroad.”

“We try to tell their stories,” Xu said. “Their story has not been told for too long. And hopefully history will remember that contribution to this magnificent work.”

Chinese railroad laborers experienced countless hardships, Xu said, and he hopes the exhibit helped teach people about what …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Utah Valley Hospital opens new, 12-story patient tower, nearing the end of $430M renovation

PROVO — Patients at Intermountain Healthcare’s Utah Valley Hospital will soon be treated to the most technologically advanced rooms with a view that are bigger and much more private.

The hospital is wrapping up a $430-million, four-year building replacement project, getting rid of outdated facilities, some of which are nearly 80 years old.

The public can tour the newly completed Todd and Andie Pedersen Patient Tower, named for the BYU graduate and Vivint Smart Home founder, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Patients will be moved to a fully operational facility on Jan. 27.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Jed Trumpet, emergency preparedness manager for the south area of Intermountain Hospitals, shows points out the decontamination showers outside the new Pedersen Patient Tower at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019.

All that is left to complete the project is a pedestrian bridge over 500 West, a healing garden in place of the old east tower, which will be torn down beginning in February, and upgrades to a couple older spaces that will have new hospital-related occupants, said hospital spokeswoman Janet Frank.

“It really has been necessary,” she said, adding that the aging hospital has become outdated. It is increasingly more common for patients to have friends and family stay with them through the duration of their hospitalization and there just isn’t room in the smaller rooms in the old east tower.

“As technology and medicine has advanced, the rooms just haven’t,” Frank said.

New patient rooms are at least double the size of the aging ones and offer all the necessary medical equipment at the ready. The 600,000-square-foot, 12-story building is also designed to allow for relatively quick expansion of its already enhanced intensive care unit, should the need arise.

In addition to the 234 patient rooms — just …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News