Babysitter Solutions: Robot Sitters and Virtual Nannies

Love the Jetsons? Space-age babysitters will touch down sooner than you think.

It's just a typical day. After stepping out of the shower, you throw on your suit, make a pot of coffee and hand the kids to Alfie the Robot. He chirps an electronic goodbye as you teleport to the office and instantly heats a bottle with his electronic hand before feeding it to your 1-year-old. Your 4-year-old? No problem. She's running after Alfie as he cleans and watching a Pixar movie on his back-screen panel. Could robots be the future of babysitting? Several companies are trying to prove just that — with quite amazing results. Read on to see several examples of what might lie in store decades from now.

Roomba
Thought Roombas were only for cleaning carpets? Interestingly, parents have been finding new uses for iRobot's cool little vacuum robot. Specifically, Roomba seems to be an excellent way to motivate kids to finish their chores.

"I tell my kids that Roomba will eat their toys if they don't clean them," states Desiree B., a Chicago mom of three boys. "It's amazingly effective. They love all their toys, and so they scramble around the room and within minutes the room is cleared. It's the best purchase we made all year."

The other bonus? Running always tires kids. Whether it's running after the Roomba, running away from the Roomba or just saving toys from the Roomba, kids are bound to sleep well.

And for child-herding purposes? "Our toddlers are afraid of our Roomba, so we set it to vacuum rooms that they are not allowed in," says Adrianne B., a Seattle mom of toddler twins. "It's been surprisingly effective, but we're waiting for the day that they discover it's only a vacuum." Are Roombas effective child care? Well, perhaps they serve more of a babysitting helper than a babysitter.

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