No Matter How You Define It, Winter is Time to Seek Warmth

Heated JacketWhether you define winter weather from an astronomical point of view, which says it began December 21, or from its meteorological designation—starting December 1—bottom line: winter’s here and we must keep warm! At Hammacher Schlemmer, we help provide solutions that let you cozy up, hibernate, or get out and about in warmth and style.

Imagine jumping out of bed in the morning to The Heated Cotton Robe. This is the cotton bathrobe with heating elements strategically placed in the front and back to deliver full-body warmth. And for your feet, we suggest The Genuine Australian Sheepskin Scuffs, derived from the fleece of Merino sheep and renowned for providing toasty warmth and unrivaled comfort.

When it’s time to leave the house, you’ll never suffer the cold with The Three Zone Heated Jacket. Heating elements are strategically placed in the chest and back to protect against the worst winter chills without the bulk of a heavy coat.

On the road or close to home, ladies will appreciate The Traveler’s Hands Free Wrap. This is the cozy wrap that has concealed pockets for hands-free and secure storage of valuables while traveling. The versatile wrap can be draped over the shoulders or torso or looped around the neck like a scarf, with a drawstring to provide a snug fit and seal out drafts on chilly flights or boat rides.

We have some unique items to guard against a frosty day as well. The Bearded Beanie is a knit cap with a foldaway detachable beard that evokes the hirsute virility of mountain men while engaging in winter tasks. Ideal for chopping wood, building a cabin, or shoveling snow, it is made from soft 100% acrylic yarn.

The Wireless Headphone Ear Warmers contain integrated speakers that connect via Bluetooth to any iPhone, Android or Windows smartphone, allowing you to listen to music or answer calls without exposing ears to the cold. The ear warmers have a thermal fleece shell, soft polyester lining and insulation to shield against cold winds.

Finally, don’t forget about man’s best friend. The Heated Dog Sofa allows pets to rest in warm, luxurious comfort. It provides radiant warmth to help pets relax and can help soothe sore joints in older, arthritic canines.

In a future article, we’ll tell you about some interesting products that help bring warmth to you home.

Snow Time Like the Present to Get Ready for Winter

Low Profile Door MatToday is the first official day of winter…and already the National Weather Service reports that more than 50% of the U.S. is covered by snow, with an average depth of 3.7″. What’s more, much of the country has been registering below-average temperatures for weeks. If that’s what autumn was like, we shudder – and shiver – to think about winter!

When it comes to winter, there are two kinds of people: those who curse the snow and those who revel in it. Fortunately, we have products to make both types happy!

It’s our experience that people who dislike snow are more likely to have injured themselves with a bad fall on the ice. Prevent such slips with The Any Shoe Ice Grips. These are the adjustable ice cleats that fit over any type of shoe, including dress shoes, to provide traction and sure footing when standing, walking, or running on snow and ice. These lightweight grips compress to store in a carrying case that can be stowed in a car or office desk in case of inclement weather.

To those who claim to prefer snow over a hot July day, we remind you that no one ever tracked sunshine into the house on their shoes. Dirty, slushy snow, on the other hand, seems to find its way from the bottom of boots right to the freshly washed foyer floor. That’s why we came up with The 12 Pint Absorbing Low Profile Door Mat. This doormat holds 12 pints of water per square yard, keeping entryways free of rain, slush and melting snow in foulest winter.

Yes, we’ll concede it’s possible to have fun, and lots of it, in the snow with the proper accessories. There’s The 50 Foot Snowball Launcher that makes and launches softball-sized snowballs up to 50′, allowing rapid, long-range assaults during neighborhood snowball confrontations. Simply place snow in the forming chamber and close the lid; it packs three perfectly spherical snowballs.

For the ultimate fun in the snow, may we suggest these three items that practically guarantee an exhilarating ride. The Street and Snow Scooter converts from a wheeled street model to one with skis, ready for the snow. The Snow Carver rides like a chopper down snowy slopes and allows an awesome “feel” for the terrain. And The Bavarian Zipfel Bobsled was inspired by the true zipfel bob, widely in use in the Alps. Can’t think of a better way to make good use of a snow day!

Robots Compete to Help Save Lives—and Win a $2 Million Prize

Androids – not phones, but robots – will convene near Miami on December 20 when 17 teams from around the world face off for a chance at a $2 million prize in a competition sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) was created in response to the nuclear meltdown caused by a Tsunami in March, 2011 at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, when being able to turn a valve in the reactor buildings might have prevented further catastrophe. The trials this month will provide a baseline on the current state of robotics and determine which teams continue to the DRC Finals to be held in December 2014, with funding from DARPA.

Each robot will be required to demonstrate the ability to move from a sanctuary area to a danger zone and then work effectively on eight tasks designed to test mobility, manipulation, dexterity, perception, and control…tasks deemed necessary in a natural or man-made disaster. The participating teams represent some of the most advanced robotics research and development organizations in the world, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, the Johnson Space Center, MIT, Drexel, Virginia Tech, and Carnegie Mellon.

According to DARPA, the technologies resulting from the DRC will transform the field of robotics and advance the development of robots that can operate in the hazardous conditions common in disaster zones.

Even today, robots available to all of us can do amazing things. While our robotically enhanced products may not save lives, they might help keep your home from looking like a disaster area. At Hammacher Schlemmer, we have robots that will clean your floors and wash your windows. Recent advances allow some of our exclusive models to use sensors that detect dirt and determine the optimal cleaning path.

Of course, some robots are just for fun. These robotic toys are more than mere toys…they provide kids of all ages amusement and amazement with their movements and responses to your commands. We even have a robot that integrates your iPhone, creating an avatar that reflects your facial features and personality traits.

And if it’s companionship you seek, The Emotive Robotic Avatar can convey nuanced emotions, which you control, of course, using the included tablet PC from up to 30′ away.

Exercise Teambuilding on a Bicycle Built for Seven

Much has been researched and written about the benefits of team building exercises to improve collaboration in corporate, academic, and even non-profit organizational settings. When peers practice working well together, the result is more productivity, sharper focus, and deeper employee satisfaction.7 Person Bicycle

For the most successful teams, dynamics require that everyone contribute to the effort. The Seven Person Tricycle accommodates seven adults and facilitates close-knit conferencing during joyrides. The seven seats each have a set of pedals that riders can operate simultaneously to propel the tricycle up to 10 mph, encouraging social interaction and team building while pedaling.

Of course, guiding leadership is also a key ingredient for a successful team. The Seven Person Tricycle puts one person at the controls to steer and operate the hydraulic brake system.

The camaraderie fostered by our group tricycle has already been proven out by some well-known organizations. Like most tech companies, Google encourages bike commuting. But, they go one step further and use this style of trike to tool teams around the corporate campus while sharing ideas. The Lighthouse for the Blind used one on a summer retreat to give sightless folks a chance to enjoy a unique bike ride. Former President Jimmy Carter happened upon the tricycle while it was on a demonstration tour in Georgia and declared it “the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Lest one view the seven-person cycle as just another corporate program-of-the-month rolled out by the HR department at HQ, let us emphasize this is really a party on wheels. It’s a unique mode of transportation that combines the endorphins of exercise, the satisfaction of socialization, and the wow factor of an eye-catching, outside-the-box design.

Rising Above The Gridlock, It’s The Helicycle

In man’s quest to drive to point B from point A ever more quickly, he has encountered natural obstacles like wide bodies of water and large tracts of unpaved land. These were overcome by engineering feats such as suspension bridges and interstate highways. Unfortunately, these successes created an entirely new and universally reviled impediment to rapid road travel: traffic congestion.

The two dimensional solution is to wait impatiently in gridlock, gnashing one’s teeth.  But now there is a way for the road-weary to take to the air, flying over the traffic. The two-seat Helicycle is a personal motorcycle that with a few minutes’ effort converts to a flying rotor craft.

When Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva invented the freewheeling auto gyro in 1923, Helicyclesafe, slow-speed flight became possible. But now, combining a motorcycle with an auto gyro puts this vehicle in the league of rocket jet packs and antigravity shoes.

A 230-hp, four-cylinder engine powers the craft to a maximum 112 mph in the air or on the road. When driven as a street-legal vehicle, the Helicycle accelerates from 0-60 mph in under eight seconds, with a proprietary tilting system that provides the agility of a motorcycle. When travel by air is desired, the craft’s propeller, rotor, and dual rudders deploy in 10 minutes. Though it resembles a helicopter, the gyrocopter flies like an ultra-light plane, its overhead rotors spinning to provide lift as a result of the forward motion of the vehicle.

Think of the possibilities…you’re on St. Barth’s in your tropical villa, near the island’s world-famous short runway  and decide to fly to St. Martin for a day of shopping and dining. It’s 34 miles round trip, a two hour ride by ferry. The answer is simple: the Helicycle. Zoom to the Gustavia airport like a motorcycle and take off into the sky like a helicopter, to fly to St. Martin in 30 minutes or less. You’ll be back on St. Barth’s in time to tell tales in tails over cocktails.

The Helicycle provides airborne mobility to fly from remote air strips, to island hop, to slowly cruise over vast reserves, ranches, and estates. Its sturdy Dutch construction and uncomplicated design requires no more than 40 hour of training to earn flight certification.