Last week, more than 150,000 tech-hungry shoppers flocked to Las Vegas for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. The annual event draws some of the world’s biggest tech companies, as well as start-ups hoping to wow consumers (and generate buzz) with their innovative new products. Along with new smartphone technology and super high-definition televisions, many of the headline-grabbing devices were designed with everyday living in mind. From smart fridges to forks that help you lose weight, here are 10 gadgets destined to bring your household into the 21st century. (Note, some items are not yet commercially available). 8. HAPIfork: Usually, utensils are supposed to aid in the consumption of food. The HAPIfork by Hapilabs does this only to a point. In addition to tracking your “fork servings” and how fast you eat, the HAPIfork vibrates and lights up when you eat food too quickly. The HAPIfork also comes equipped with a USB drive and software to track your eating habits. (hapilabs.com) 7. WeMo Switch: For the cautious, careless (or simply neurotic) traveler, Belkin’s WeMo Switch allows you to monitor and control electronic devices from your iPhone and other electronic devices. Combine with the WeMo Motion to automatically turn on devices whenever you enter a room. As an added bonus, you can freak out the person who waters your plants by having your blender go off, Poltergeist-style, when he stops by. ($49.99 WeMo Switch, $99.99 WeMo Switch and Motion, belkin.com) 6. Moxie showerhead: Singing in the bathtub has never been easier thanks to Kohler’s Bluetooth-enabled shower head with waterproof speaker and “60 angled nozzles for a full water spray.” Not recommended for people who already spend too much time in the bathroom. ($199, us.kohler.com) 5. iPotty: Yes, this is a real thing. CTA Digital, maker of iPad and Kindle accessories, has developed a training potty complete with iPad holster, allowing your tot to play games or watch cartoons while using the bathroom. How did we ever potty train without it? ($40, ctadigital.com) 4. Flower Power plant monitor: Until the day we genetically engineer talking plants, you’ll have to rely on French electronic company Parrot’s new gadget to tell you what your azaleas are thinking. The Y-shaped Flower Power sensor monitors moisture, sunlight, humidity, temperature and fertilizer conditions via your smartphone. It also comes with an electronic database of best care tips for more than 6,000 plant species. (parrot.com) 3. Compact4All Appliances: Like LEGO blocks for the kitchen, these four cube-shaped home appliances by Princess (kettle, toaster, coffee maker and juicer) can be stacked and plugged into a single electrical outlet. ($52 each, princess.nl) 2. Famibot: It’s a Roomba… I mean, a home service robot, that patrols your home, purifying the air, guarding against intruders and communicating with family members. So really, there’s no reason for you to come home anymore. (ecovacs.com) 1. T9000 Refrigerator: Not to be mistaken with the T-1000 android from Terminator, the T9000 is part of a new line of “smart” appliances conceived by Samsung. The stainless-steel, 32-cubic-foot combination fridge/freeszr comes equipped with a 10-inch display screen and plenty of culinary-themed apps, like Epicurious, which provides recipe ideas based on the items you have in your fridge. ($4,000, samsung.com)
Is 2013 the year you resolved to keep your house tidy? With planning, a bit of extra effort and these six tips to start you off, you can succeed where your 2012 diet failed. 1. Start with a clean slate. Get a leg up on your new cleaning regiment by bringing in professionals to tackle major jobs, like cleaning the stove or scrubbing floors. Once your home is spic and span, make it your resolution to keep it that way. 2. Make a cleaning plan. The best resolutions have clear, concise goals and a timeline to accomplish them. Check out the 2013 New Year’s Cleaning Grand Plan Challenge, a 14-week program by the Organized Home web blog, for a step-by-step schedule, as well as cleaning tips and tricks. 3. Invest in tools to make cleaning easier. Often, it’s the simple things that help keep a space clean: a cover for the microwave, baking soda for the fridge, automatic cleaners for toilet and shower. And let’s not forget that industrious robotic helper, the Roomba. It cleans your floors while you’re away, then recharges itself automatically. 4. Clear that clutter. The post-Christmas season is a good time to take stock of your living space. Has paperwork taken over your desk? File it away. Ages-old condiments in the fridge? Toss ’em. Invest in storage containers to put away odds and ends. 5. Tackle cleaning one chore at a time. With any New Year’s resolution, the quickest route to failure is to tackle too much at once. Resolve to set aside just fifteen minutes per day to clean your home, focusing on one room at a time. 6. Reward yourself for a job well done. Resolve to treat yourself whenever you reach a milestone on your cleaning plan. A new flat-screen TV would look great mounted of the wall of your squeaky clean living room.
There’s nothing Hollywood loves more than a creepy “home-alone” horror movie, with potential danger lurking behind every corner. In real life, these often-neglected corners of your house could be hiding some very scary surprises. 1. Attic or crawlspace These storage spaces can attract real-life creepy crawlies, from pests to mold and mildew, which can damage your home and cause health problems if left unchecked. You should examine your attic or crawlspace every six months, looking for droppings, nesting materials or other signs of pests. If you find evidence of an infestation, call an exterminator immediately. You should also be on the lookout for dampness or foul odours, which can signal that water is getting in to the house. Be sure to wear a face mask when cleaning the space, especially if you have exposed insulation. If you’re using the attic or crawlspace to store items, be sure to put them in airtight plastic or rubber containers. 2. Under furniture Who knows what horrors lurk beneath the Chesterfield? Seriously, though, dust and pet hair accumulating under furniture can be a real nightmare for allergy sufferers. To clean under furniture on hardwood floors or linoleum, use an extension handle duster (the kind made for sweeping the tops of ceiling fans). Carpeted rooms require a bit more work. If you’re going to move the furniture out, consider giving the whole space a good steam cleaning – will keep you from having to perform this unpleasant chore again for some time. 3. The closet If I’ve learned anything from horror movies, it’s that closets usually contain one of three things: a monster, an axe murderer or clutter – and most people would rather deal with the first two. The key to organizing a closet is to divide and conquer. Take everything out of the closet and divide it into three categories: keep, dump or donate. Be ruthless; dump anything that’s damaged and donate anything you haven’t worn in a year or longer, doesn’t fit you or no longer suits your style. Once your closet is uncluttered, plan to keep it that way: install double rods and shelves to increase your storage capacity, store small items in containers and use the back of the door for a hanging shoe organizer. 4. The Fridge Scarier than the Blob, a dirty refrigerator is a potential breeding ground for bacteria and food-borne pathogens. And like the Blob, you should tackle this chore before it becomes too big to handle – about once a month. Clear your shelves, making sure to toss anything that’s spoiled or expired. If possible, remove the shelves and drawers from the fridge. Wipe down the shelves, drawers and the interior with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda to one quart of hot water (avoid chemical cleaners, which can leave behind a scent that can be absorbed by the food.) You can place a tray of baking soda or cat litter in the fridge to eliminate lingering odours. Once a season, you should also unplug your fridge and vacuum the coils at the back of the fridge. 5. The Shower Psycho, anyone? You likely won’t meet a grisly end in the bathroom (as long as you have non-slip mats, of course). But it’s difficult to stay clean when your shower is dirtier than you are. Over time, your shower head can accumulate mineral deposits that will block the flow of water. To clean your shower head, immerse it in a pot of distilled white vinegar, then heat the pot on medium-low heat and rinse. Scrub down your shower walls with a mildew-busting solution of 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup ammonia, 1/4 baking soda and 3 litres of hot water. Wipe down glass shower doors clean with white vinegar for a crystal clear clean. Most shower curtains can be tossed in the washing machine; add half a load’s worth of detergent and 1/2 cup of baking soda during the wash cycle, then 1/2 cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle. Hang to dry.