Traditionally it's a monster TV set, well-designed smartphone or $24,000 smart fridge (as in 2012) that astonishes visitors to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but this year it seems that it's a potty training aid that retails for US$40 which is generating debate among some and leaving others speechless.
Called the iPotty, this brightly colored, molded plastic accessory which combines a traditional baby's potty with an equally colorful iPad stand is spurring comments on numerous tech sites. Designed by CTA Digital, the company claims the high-tech addition of a tablet to the usually low-tech process of educating a young child in the ways of personal hygiene will make potty-training sessions eaiser, as the child will have something to focus on and interact with, ensuring that they keep still and remain seated for the duration of the job at hand.
The makers of iPotty have taken measures to ensure parents' peace of mind, in terms of long-term damage, incorporating into the iPad stand a clear tablet cover to protect it from splashes, and the whole unit can be disassembled for thorough cleaning.
However, the iPotty has also raised questions about firstly who the device is really aimed at -- the parent or the child -- and whether it is good for a child's development to expose it to an electronic screen at such an early age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should not be directly exposed to electronic screens until they are two years old. Potty training often begins when a child is aged between 18 months and 2 years old and many medical professionals recommend giving children a book to look at when on the potty.
Despite such recommendations, the latest long-term studies by Ofcom, the British media regulator, and Nielsen, the US consumer and media insights organizations both found that children as young as 3 years old regularly use tablets for leisure and educational activities.