Friday, January 24, 2014

Cool Home Products from 2014 Consumer Electronics Shwo

6 COOL HOME PRODUCTS FROM THE 2014 CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW

Third in a five-part series on home automation.

The best new home gadgets and appliances unveiled at the recent consumer electronics show in las vegas do your chores, keep a remote eye on family members and let you start dinner while you're at the office. here are our six favorites:


1. Winbot window washing robot $400

Tired of washing the windows? The Winbot window cleaning robot washes not just your windows, but also your glass doors, railings and show stalls.

This nifty device has a cleaning pad that washes, a built-in squeegee for wiping and a second cleaning pad for drying. It's like the floor cleaning robots currently on the market, except it uses a vacuum pump to seal itself to the window and then zips around washing it.

Winbot isn't totally self-sufficient. You do have to add the fluid to the pad and attach the winbot to your window.


2. Piper $239

This quick and easy-to-use security system lets you see and hear what's going on in your home when you're not there. Piper has amotion detector, video camera, microphone and siren and you tell piper when to use each of them.

If you're on vacation, you can tell Piper to sound a siren, record a video and text you if it detects any motion. Other options include having Piper call or text you or your friends or family members.

There's no monthly fee because Piper isn't hooked up to a security company. You won't get any false alarm calls made to emergency responders, which sometimes happens with security systems connected to a monitoring center. But, Piper won't call the police if someone breaks into your house at 3 a.m. either.

Piper works with Z-Wave home automation accessories, so you can add sensors to tell you when doors or windows open, or have it turn on the lights when you open the front door.

 3. Remote appliances

You can do the laundry and start dinner while you're still at the office, as long as you've done the preparation in advance.

LG ThinQ refrigerators tell you what's inside, alert you when your food is about to expire and can let you know what you need to buy on your way home to complete a recipe. LG's Home Chat appliances will even respond to your voice or text commands, so you can turn on the washing machine when you're not home.

Belkin's Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker enabled by WeMo ($99.99) takes online commands via the WeMo Automation Electric Outlet ($49). The catch is that you have to put dinner in the crock-pot and the clothes in your washing machine before you leave home.

4. August Smart Lock $199

This electronic door lock recognizes your smartphone location and unlocks the door for you automatically when you get home.

If you have visitors or a housekeeper coming over, you can send them virtual keys to unlock your door, too.

An online log tells you who's gone into and out of your home. If you lose your phone, you can go online to unlock your door, or use your traditional key to get in.

5. Withings Aura wake-up light ($299)

The passion for fitness monitoring has spread to the night shift in the Withings Aura wake-up light and sleep monitoring system.

Withings Aura collects data from a sensor pad slipped under your mattress to measure and record your body movements, breathing cycles and heart rate. A bedside device measures your bedroom environment (noise, room temperature and light levels).

Based on the measurements, the system comes up with light and sound programs to relax you to sleep or stimulate you to wake up.

6. Kid trackers

Companies at the show offered some neat tracking devices to help parents know where their children are after they leave the house.

The Filip wristband ($199 plus $10 a month) contains a SIM card so you can load in five phone numbers. In an emergency, the wrist band calls those numbers until someone answers, sends out a location beacon and records sounds.

You can also set SafeZones, triggering a notification if your child enters or leaves the designated area. AT&T is promoting the device for use by 5- to 11-year-olds.

Tracking older children, requires more discretion. Delphi's Connect ($99-$199) plugs into your car's in-dash diagnostics port and then sends position and vehicle data to your smartphone. The higher-priced version also creates a Wi-Fi hotspot, giving everyone in your car Internet access.

You'll know your car's speed and location and can set an alert to notify you if your teen drives your car out of or into preset areas or goes above the speed limit.

It's handy for grownups, too. Connect can locate your car when you don't remember where you parked and remotely unlock the car door when you can't find your keys.

courtesy of Al Clark's HomeAgain Newsletter
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