My 5 Techie 'Dad Superpowers' for 2017 | My 5 Techie 'Dad Superpowers' for 2017 | DMA

Filter By

Show All

Connect to


My 5 Techie 'Dad Superpowers' for 2017


Chestnuts roasting on the fire, children playing in the snow and game consoles on sale at Argos, it must be time for some festive trend predictions! Yes, the tech innovation juggernaut is coming to town and everyone wants to know where it's heading, and what goodies we have in store for the year ahead.

To be honest with you, I’m a bit humbug about the whole thing. Both Christmas cheer and the hyperbole of annual tech forecasts test my natural scepticism. For the forecasts, the latest Mary Meeker report or Gartner hype cycle provides most of what we need to know. Likewise we have been fattened all year by industry coverage of the 'big bets' such as VR, artificial intelligence, live social et al.

Rather than just looking at the technology itself I prefer to think about the human impact that these developments may or may not have. How might our lives materially change next year? And will the change be for the better?

As a dad, and for anyone trying to do a bit parenting, the role of technology has fast become a primary concern. Normally, it’s a worry about screen time and stranger danger but today, I’m in a millennial mood. Never mind the kids I say, forget about sexting and Snapchat, what about me? What will tech do for me in 2017?

I give you my (imagined) 5 dad superpowers.

1. Omnipresence

Privacy and security will continue to be big news in 2017. I expect more and more control to be taken back by the users. For kids on the internet, this is becoming a critical issue. Through our work with O2 and the NSPCC we recognise that online life is real life for children, and it is high time that the same levels of protection we would expect in the playground are implemented on the web.

More legislation is much needed however to give me some control in the meantime. I am hoping that a product like Circle with Disney (currently only in the US) will hit the UK market next year. Without having to change your Wi-Fi router, or install software on each device, Circle gives parents an easy way to control the time, duration and destinations of their child’s internet access at home.

With Circle Go in the pipeline, similar levels of control, with an associated family dialogue about safety and responsibility, will be available over mobile networks too.

2. Telekinesis

Time for some magic. Look kids, no hands! If you haven’t already tried out the UE Boom Bluetooth speaker, you should. Right now. It’s amazing.

Out of nowhere, dad can conjure up music from any genre, in any room, at any time. This will be deeply embarrassing to teenagers, but for juniors it’s gold. ABBA Gold, mainly. Interspersed with Lion King and Led Zep. The sound quality is seriously impressive.

Wireless smart home devices will abound in 2017, together with personal assistants like Amazon Echo. Being hands-free is a superpower in itself, and chucking out voice commands that can bring entertainment to the family in an instant, well that’s got to be worth a go. Add in invisible control over the heating, security system and weekly shop, and dad is transformed into a wizard of the highest order.

A bit creepy yes, and still clunky at times, but digital PAs will no doubt soon become part of the family.

3. X-ray vision

Look, I’m not paranoid… unless you heard otherwise? But it can feel like a dereliction of duty not to use smart tech to try and keep kids safe. Keeping tabs on their location seems like a good start, within reason.

I’m less clear about what 2017 will bring when it comes to tracking technologies, though. For older kids a mobile phone is the obvious solution, but for younger ones what is the best way to stay in touch? Can I tag them, like little criminals?

Unfortunately, RFID tags like Tile aren’t suitable for long-range tracking so I’d have to use GPS. Good kit is out there for golfers and pet owners (try PocketFinder) but nobody seems to have cracked it for kids. In the US there are fun watches like HeroO and FiLIP but they seem a bit OTT.

Maybe this is one of those superpowers that turn out to be unwelcome, like a colourful cape caught in a jet engine.

4. Mind control

You will become a sports star, you will learn to code! Whatever your ambition for little Jonny or Jane, gadgetry will have a role to play.

I particularly like the new ‘toys’ that combine play and learning, helping boys and girls to understand the principles of coding. The geeks will inherit the Earth, after all.

In my house, BB-8 has already provided a year of family fun. Next up is the sister product SPRK+ that allows you to program the robot using a simple visual interface. Similarly, there are toys like Hackaball and Little Bits that give budding engineers the chance to solve puzzles and program behaviour at the same time. They aren’t especially cheap, but they’re a gift that keeps on giving.

5. Being cool

Well, why not? A shiny new piece of tech can raise your status. Don’t deny it. So if I got my hands on a mixed-reality device like HoloLens or a Magic Leap (hurry up!), then I won’t hesitate to pretend it’s a new form of my dad superpower.

In truth, my kids are most likely going to see through my attempts to impress them, but I like to try to see the upside of new tech. There is no doubt that 2017 will continue to deliver new opportunities for people to interact in new ways. My New Year wish is simply that it makes everyone more human, and brings us closer together.

Hear more from the DMA

Please login to comment.