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As the economy revs back to life, factories are humming with all kinds of new products to make sure that when consumers are ready to start spending, there’s cool stuff to buy.
“Manufacturers clearly aren’t sitting on their hands,” said Boyce Thompson, the editorial director at Builder Magazine. He said virtually every company had something new to show at the recent builders’ show. “A lot of it was pretty exciting.”
The gazillion-head shower and other energy guzzlers are on their way out, Thompson says. The new technology is focused on energy efficiency and mobile control of the home.
Here is some of the hottest new technology for the home.
By Cindy Perman
Posted 20 Jan 2011
3D is all the rage in home entertainment these days and the technology is changing rapidly. Nintendo recently announced a new gaming system that’s 3D WITHOUT THE GLASSESand JVC is going one better in the personalization department, with a 3D camcorder.
JVC’s 3D camcorder,which is expected to be available in March for $1,999.95, uses two camera lenses and two sensors to capture three-dimensional images, “much the same way the human eye works,” according to JVC.
How cool would that be to send 3D videos of the kids to grandma or relive that awesome vacation all over again, right there on your couch. Pass the popcorn!
A robot that cleans your house is every homeowners’ dream but Neato Roboticstakes it to the next level, adding a LASER to their little robot vacuum.
The robot vacuums of the past just wandered around your house sucking up everything in their path until they bumped into something. The laser allows the Neato robot vacuum to make a map of your house, from the couch to the front door, so it knows what it’s already cleaned and what still needs to be done.
And when it’s done? It already has “home” on it’s little GPS and returns to its home base.
By now you’ve probably heard of radiant heat flooring, which is basically a heated mat under your hardwood or tile that keeps your floor — and your toes — warm.
Well now, Warmly Yours is taken that toasty-toed concept outdoors, introducing radiant heat for the driveway,sidewalk — and even the gutters.
It’s like a driveway that shovels itself!
They even offer a handy “Snow Melt Quick Estimate”tool that allows you to quickly calculate how much it would cost to install it in your driveway.
Wish you had another set of hands so you could rock the baby and get your work done? 4moms hears you, with their new mamaRoo — a baby seat that “moves like you do.”
The mamaRoo,which costs $199.99, has five settings to make sure it gets all your moves down, including the “rock-a-bye,” that mimics your rocking, the tree swing and the car ride. You can also set the speed to just your tempo, there are three toys dangling over head to hold baby’s interest and there’s a built-in speaker than offers white noise, nature sounds and can connect to any MP3 player.
It’s a good widdle chair. Yes it is. Oh yes it is.
Professionals have been able to see through your walls for years to detect energy leaks or water leaks, but now, the thermal-imaging guns they use are starting to become more mass marketed so any of us can buy them.
“These things are unbelievable!” Thompson said. “YOU can take a picture of a wall or roof and basically see beneath the surface.”
One such product, that’s reasonably priced at around $50, is the Black and Decker thermal leak detector(pictured left), which allows you to check for any energy leaks. It’s basically an infrared thermometer, which detects surface temperatures and an LED light changes color when it comes on hot or cold spots.
The full-on thermal guns are also becoming more affordable, like the Flir i5,said Nigel Maynard, a senior editor at Builder Magazine.The gun, which is down to $1,500 from $5,000, allows users to not only detect energy leaks but water problems, electrical faults and other problems behind the wall.
These products are not only cool, they save you money on hefty contractor fees and your energy bill. Not to mention, it saves you from putting needless holes in the wall to see what’s going on back there!
If you don’t have a chimney, your options up until now were either go with an electric fireplace or install a gas line, which involves putting holes in your wall and potentially unsightly pipe work climbing up your house.
Well, now fireplaces are going mobile, freestanding in the middle of a room or popping out of a coffee table, as they use small tanks of ethanol or other biofuels.
“They are really cool because the fuel is often made from beet, sugar cane, berries, etc.,” Maynard said. “There’s a small reservoir tank that, depending on the size, will offer about eight hours of burn time. The other cool thing about them is that there are no harmful emissions.”
The Bertram Ethanol Fireplace, pictured, left, is stainless steel, with a reservoir that holds 4-5 hours of fuel, and retails for just over $1,000. And, the double-bonus: You can view it from two sides!
Not every dark room is conducive to a skylight — maybe there isn’t room on the ceiling or maybe there are obstructions in the attic.
The Velux Sun Tunnelis a flexible tube that can navigate rocky paths out to the light and deliver a small, round portal of light (14” or 21” in diameter) into the room.
“You can use them to bring light to a part of the house that wouldn’t otherwise have windows,” Thompson said, such as closets, hallways, bathrooms and laundry rooms. Plus, the design is a lot more elegant than your average window-on-the-ceiling skylight.
They cost about $300 to $400 each, depending on the size and length of tunnel you need, plus installation costs.
Can lights, small circular lights inset in the ceiling, add elegance to any room and let’s face it, ceiling speakers are awesome, but now, you can get them all rolled into one.
The Klipsch LightSpeaker system, which won the innovation award at last year’s CES show, is particularly cool because the speakers are wireless and they install like a light bulb — just screw them in.
You can get two light-speakers and a master control system for just under $500 on Amazon.com. Each system can handle up to eight light-speakers and each additional light-speaker is about $250.
You can program each system for two different zones, so you can listen to different music in different rooms. Let there be light — and sound!
Speakers like that are a beacon of a broader trend — entertainment that travels with you around the home, a luxury that used to only be for bazillionaires like Bill Gates but is now becoming more accessible to the masses.
By now you’ve probably seen the DirecTV commercial,that shows an awesome robot fight that starts in one room of the home, pauses as the guy walks to the next room and then resumes. Basically, you start watching a show in one room and then continue watching it in another.
On the music side, home-music systems like Sonosallow you to wirelessly connect the speakers all over the house and divide them into zones so you can play the same music throughout, say if you’re throwing a party, or divide it up with different music in different rooms — say, so you can listen to grown-up music and the kids can listen to kid music!
It can stream music over the Internet through sources like Sirius, Rhapsody and Pandora and can be controlled using an iPad, iPhone or iTouch — from anywhere in the house.
“I love it,” said Patrick Hylant, an insurance salesman and avid music lover in Ohio. It’s faster than previous systems he’s used — “As fast as you can work an iTouch or an iPad you can play music,” he says — and the music is all stored online, so it doesn’t clog up your iPhone. Plus, once you have the app, you can control a Sonos system anywhere, say at a second home or at a friend’s house.
The entire house is getting interconnected, master-controlled and wireless — and now, not even your washing machine is safe!
LG and other companies are increasingly offering “smart grid” appliances that you can control from your smartphone or tablet computer — or even remotely. Say, when you’re on vacation.
You may not need to wash a load of laundry while you’re on vacation, but what’s really hot about this technology is that it will allow you to monitor the energy usage of each appliance and diagnose problems with appliances — from ANYWHERE.
“Before long, you’re going to be able to tell how much electricity or gas your appliances are using and will be able to adjust when you use your dishwasher or dryer based on your utility’s peak time,” Thompson said. Peak times are high usage times and utility companies charge you more during those times. Yeah, that IS smart!
And let’s just be honest, wouldn’t it be cool to tell your laser robot vacuum to have the house cleaned before you get home?!
Not everyone is blessed with the pocketbook to have an apartment or home with stunning views but now, thanks to companies like The Sky Factory, you can have any view you want — anywhere.
It’s basically a digital window, comprised of an HD LCD monitor embedded in a custom-designed window frame, that you can put anywhere — on the wall or even on the ceiling.
They’ve done sky views on the ceiling of medical clinics, year-round views of fall foliage in the foyer of a private home and portal windows of deep-sea life at a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. And they’re not just one image, they’re hours of images that make it look authentic like you’re looking out the window or into the sea.
Take a deep breathe. Ahhhh, I love the smell of virtual air in the morning! So crisp.