Anyone remember Rosie, the robotic housekeeper who petered around The Jetsons in the 1960s?
“I swear on my mother's rechargeable batteries,” she once joked, when asked by Judy Jetson to keep a secret.
While we’re still a few years away from a domesticated humanoid robot that can wash our dishes and make our beds, there are a number of machines today that can assist with menial tasks in and around the house.
Oh sure, you already know about the Roomba floor-vacuuming robot that can suck up dirt, debris, and pet hair – but there are many other high-tech helpers worth considering.
Here are a few of our favorites.
Let’s face facts, here: You probably have better things to do than get on your hands and knees and scrub away at hard floors. And so this is where iRobot’s Scooba 450 ($599.99) comes in. Simply fill the tank, press the Clean button and go about your business as this disc-shaped robot automatically sweeps and pre-soaks, scrubs, and then squeegees your floors (be it tile, linoleum, stone or sealed hardwood). Removing more than 99.3 percent of bacteria, says iRobot, this latest Scooba can keep your floors sparkling clean – even though you might not even be home – as the ‘bot finds its way around the room, covering every area of floor multiple times. Along with a dual compartment tank that holds clean and dirty water separately, you’ve got a choice between 20- and 40-minute cleaning session, aided by verbal clues to help you set it and forget it.
Pools are supposed to be fun, but cleaning them sure isn’t. Instead of manually vacuuming the pool, consider the Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner (about $1799.99) which can expertly clean the floor, walls, and waterline of pools up to 50 feet in length. In fact, this smart cleaner can brush, scrub, vacuum, and filter the entire pool – so you don’t have to. After you wheel the cleaner to the desired drop spot in the pool (caddy included), use the remote control to enable automatic operation (or do it manually, if you really want to), and easily set parameters including cycle time, cleaning programs and operation delay (one or two hours). The M5 features top-opening filtration compartments for convenient maintenance, a swivel-on cable that prevents cable tangling, integrated gyro to further enhance scanning efficiency, and a dual-level filtration system to catch all kinds of dirt and debris.
While it might freak you out if you see this thing crawling up your windows, the aptly-named Winbot ($399.99) could lend you a helping hand – especially when it comes to cleaning hard to reach areas outside of your home. From Ecovacs Robotics, simply stick the Winbot (model # W730) to a window and it’ll initiate three cleaning stages: Soaking the glass with a solution-dampened pad, wiping it down with a squeegee, and then drying with a second, clean pad. And it can do more than windows, too, as the 9 x 8.8 x 3.7-inch Winbot also cleans mirrors and glass doors, of any thickness, with the touch of a button. Features include an integrated frameless window detection system, safety pod for windows above ground level, and 60-inch power cord and rechargeable lithium back-up battery.
Billed as the world’s first app-controlled slow cooker, Belkin’s Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker ($129.99) takes advantage of the WeMo wireless smart home platform. Use a free app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device to adjust the crock pot's settings from anywhere, receive pushed reminders, adjust the cook time and/or temperature, set a timer, and check the status of your meal before you step in the door. At home you can manually make selections on the crock-pot’s LED screen – or still use the app if you’re lounging on the sofa. Other features of this Wi-Fi-enabled 6-quart slow cooker include three temperature settings, cool-touch handles to keep your hands safe, and a removable stoneware and glass lid for easy cleanup.
From the maker of the carpet-vacuuming Rooma robots and floor-scrubbing Scooba robots comes the iRobot Looj 330 ($299.99), designed to clean out your house’s gutters on its own, or if you prefer, while you stand on the ladder and control the action via a remote handle that snaps back on top of the Looj when you’re done. The 500 rotations-per-minute augurs can quickly churn out guck, leaves and other debris so that it falls on the ground – capable of cleaning a 30-foot section of gutter in just five minutes – plus there are a few different augur tips are included depending on your job at hand. This third-generation yellow-and-black Looj is smaller, faster, and features a better rechargeable battery, and is meant to make this biannual eavestrough-cleaning task more convenient, safer, and – dare we say it – fun, too.
Want to be the envy of your snooty neighbors? If the price isn’t an obstacle, the Husqvarna Automower 220 AC (from $2,399.99) can cut grass over a half-acre (about 1800 square meters) before it needs recharging – and at that time, it’s smart enough to return on its own to the charging station, power up, and then continue mowing again! The weather-proof mower can handle lawns with a complicated shape, says the company, plus users can make adjustments using the settings on the keypad and display – or free app. Husqvarna says the Automower’s sharp blades, made of strong carbon steel, cuts grass finely and accurately, while its unique cutting system ensures for a relatively quiet and discreet job. Other features include a PIN code lock and anti-theft alarm, zero emissions, a timer, and more.
Imagine turning your lights on and off, opening and closing your drapes and adjusting the temperature on your thermostat – all without getting off the sofa? All you need is the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home Remote ($349.99), the granddaddy of all universal remotes for control freaks. Oh sure, you can access all your home theater gear on the colour touchscreen (with icons for your favorite stations) – and you can perform multiple functions with one tap, no less – but also works with smart devices like Nest, Philips Hue, Sonos, Xbox One, and more (in fact, Logitech says the Harmony remote supports more than 225,000 devices). And because the remote’s hub (included) works via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infrared, it also lets you control all your components through drawers, cabinets and walls, even with a supported phone or tablet app if desired.
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