Every new set of parents must have The Talk, and no, I don’t mean something about how babies are made. I mean, you have to decide with your partner just what images and stories you can share of your child on social media. Will you photograph a poopy diaper? Should you record a temper tantrum? Are you going to post media at all?
New Born Fame, the graduate project of Design Academy Eindhoven student Laura Cornet, takes social media sharing out of the hands of a parent, and puts it into the hands of a baby. It’s a collection of cloud-connected toys: A mobile tangles Twitter and Facebook icons, which films and posts videos as a baby reaches toward them. A pair of shoes tracks kicks with an internal pedometer, and posts the activity charts like Nike+. A squeezable GPS tracker will log a baby’s location. And a selfie-ball will photograph a baby whenever the ball rotates and upload the shot.
Are the toys absurd? Most would say yes, I suspect. But if you agree that a baby shouldn’t be posting their own photos and data online, you’ll be sucked down an ethical rabbit hole–leading to the inevitable conclusion that maybe it’s absurd to publicly share media of any small child at all.
“They raise the question, who owns the right to put a baby on the Internet?” Cornet explains. “The baby isn’t old enough to be aware of it, but if the mother decides, it is accepted. I question if the mother/father in this case are actually the ones to decide.”
Cornet has taken the role of a provocateur, but strangely, she’s also taken the stance of an entrepreneur. While New Born Fame wasn’t necessarily conceived as a set of commercial products, she readily admits that there’s probably a market–especially for her selfie ball–and seems open to bringing her working prototype into greater production in the future.
“For instance if the kid is at the babysitter, [the ball] can send pictures to your phone. It can be an alternative to a baby monitor/intercom. It can be used to see the development of a baby, even,” she explains. “I am not against this type of technology. I like the possibilities a lot! I just think some parts of the use of these new technical things aren’t explored enough from a social or ethical point of view.”