As the taxi drives away, whisking one to the airport for much-needed R&R in warmer climes, who hasn’t had a nagging thought: “Did I turn off the TV? Is the timer for the light set?”
Those days are now a thing of the past, thanks to The Smartphone Light And Appliance Controller. This complete remote-controlled system includes a plug-in dimmer for a lamp, a wall dimmer for a ceiling fixture, a plug-in on/off switch for a single appliance such as a TV or stereo, and a base station that communicates with each through your home’s existing Wi-Fi network. An app downloaded to an iPhone or Android smartphone provides access to the base station for adjusting each device’s brightness and timer settings—ideal for implying one’s presence in the home while away.
Enthusiasm for home management via smartphone is growing as more apps are developed. Aside from turning the lights on and off, controller systems and the complementary apps enable the user to interface with the furnace and air conditioner to ensure comfort on arrival, while saving energy when no one is home. Some systems learn your habits over time and can be set to make the adjustments automatically.
One of the increasingly popular ways to control your home via smartphone uses Internet-connected door locks that eliminate the need to hide a spare key under the welcome mat. With one of these systems, you can monitor when your children return from school or open the door remotely for a repairman or cleaning service.
You can also use your smartphone to keep an eye that repairman once he’s in the house or to check on your pets during the day. Small, wireless cameras can be set unobtrusively on a shelf or bookcase to monitor your house over your phone. Some systems even let you pan, tilt, or zoom the camera remotely.
Appliance makers are now manufacturing refrigerators, ovens, and more with smart capabilities already included and many new homes are being built ready for remote automation, but for now, for most of us, the smartphone leads the way.
On this day in 1964, Pan Am flight 101 from London, whose passengers included an up-and-coming band from Liverpool, touched down at New York’s JFK Airport at 1:20 p.m. The Beatles arrival in the U.S. 50 years ago created pandemonium the likes of which had never been seen and ignited a musical revolution that came to be known as “The British Invasion”. Though we cannot say for certain whether John, George, Paul, or Ringo paid a visit to our Manhattan store during this trip, somehow the Boys learned of our “Nothing Box”—a small box with two rows of lights on its side that did nothing but flash in a random sequence until its battery ran out. (It was subsequently rechristened “The Something Box” to avoid confusion with a similarly named product.) This must have appealed to the Fab Four’s well-known dry sense of humor, because they purchased hundreds of Hammacher Schlemmer’s Nothing Boxes as gifts.
One generation removed, the 60’s-era Nothing Box bears scant resemblance to its modern descendent The Illumicube. This clear acrylic cube has an array of 64 multi-colored LEDs that systematically flash in millions of different combinations, producing a mesmerizing light show. Many of our customers tell us they also use it as a nightlight. For those who prefer a multi-media experience, we recommend The Musical iPhone Illumisphere. Paired wirelessly to a smartphone, this geodesic dome plays music through its integrated speakers while multi-colored LEDs create a psychedelic light show in synch with your audio tracks. Sgt. Pepper’s anyone?
Since the Roomba vacuum was launched in 2002, the iconic robotic vacuum has repeatedly revolutionized autonomous vacuuming. Their latest model, the Roomba 880, is no exception.
The Roomba 880 is the first to forgo typical vacuum brushes, instead relying on two rubber rollers that rotate in opposite directions to increase suction and remove 50% more dirt than previous generations. The rollers will not get tangled in rug tassels and are virtually maintenance free, unlike traditional brushes.
Made by iRobot, developers of tactical reconnaissance robots for the U.S. military, Roomba has added sophisticated technology over the years that enables the robot to analyze the dimensions of a room, determine the optimal cleaning path, and navigate around furniture and stairs.
The Roomba 880 has integrated optical sensors that detect dirty areas and acoustic sensors that determine when the vacuum is working harder, prompting Roomba to concentrate on these areas. Not only does Roomba require less work to operate than traditional upright vacuums—it’s also smarter. And with improved battery technology, this Roomba runs through twice as many cleaning cycles before the rechargeable battery needs replacing.
For over a decade, Roomba has proven to be the most advanced autonomous vacuum on the market. But iRobot is not a company that rests on its laurels. As the new Roomba 880 demonstrates, they continue to drive innovation in their industry and promise to lead their field for years to come.
Studies have shown that 30-40% of people snore. After age 60, this percentage increases to 60%. Informal polls show that 94% of spouses are bothered by the noise. We suspect the other 6% work nights. Hammacher Schlemmer offers innovative and unique snoring solutions that can help.
To avoid a snoring-related phenomenon—lightly bruised ribs from the snorer’s bed partner employing a firmly placed elbow in an attempt to stop the racket—we recommend a snore-reducing pillow.
Our Snore-Activated Nudging Pillow detects snoring and “nudges” a sleeper into shifting positions without the need for spousal intervention. The pillow’s integrated microphone picks up the sonic vibrations of snoring, automatically inflating an internal air bladder that increases this snoring aid pillow’s depth by 3″—just enough movement to roust a sleeper into moving head or body position. The contoured shape provides optimal head positioning for ameliorating snoring and cradles the head for blissful sleep.
Other snoring solutions that act to aid the affected spouse provide soothing background noise, masking the sound of the snore. You can design your own tranquil acoustic environment with sounds such as rain, surf, a running stream, wind, or white noise. Our exclusive Authentic Sound Oasis Machine uses the latest digital technology to create aural atmospheres from sound recorded at the source, far superior to other white noise machines’ computer-generated facsimiles.
If the snorer’s spouse prefers to listen to music or audio books in bed while their partner saws logs, The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones reduce ambient noise so the wearer can enjoy crisp acoustics without the distracting sounds. These headphones are also useful in the office or on an airplane.
If you bought or received a gift card last Christmas, you’re in good company. While the appeal of gift cards shows no sign of abating—they’ve been the most popular gift for seven years running—it brings to mind a troubled time in U.S. history when retailers experimented with another alternate currency.
At the height of the Civil War, the hoarding of gold and silver made coins so scarce that most merchants were unable to provide change to their customers. In response, in 1862 private businesses began to mint their own coins that patrons could exchange for store credit, much like gift cards are used today. Millions of these coins, known as “rebellion tokens”, were minted in hundreds of different designs, often featuring a patriotic message or an image of the proprietor.
Typical of Hammacher Schlemmer’s understated philosophy, our copper tokens were stamped with only our name and address and the word “Hardware” on the obverse; the reverse featured the words “not one cent” and the die striker’s name, Louis Roloff, within a closed circle of laurel branches.
Production of tokens ceased in June of 1864 when Congress passed the law that made the minting of non-government issued coins a federal crime. However, it is not illegal to own the tokens. It is estimated that about a million tokens survived of the 25 million produced, and a rare example in good condition can easily fetch hundreds of dollars from an avid exonumist.
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so it’s time to consider some unique gifts for her. Candy is dandy while it lasts; why not surprise your Sweetie with the unexpected gift that she’ll love all year long.
Among our favorite gifts for women are those that will help her get more out of today’s technology. The iPhone 5/5S Polycarbonate Wallet has an impact-resisting hard shell that protects her phone, and also provides storage for money, credit cards and an ID, and also features an integrated mirror. It comes in your choice of several bold colors that complement her style, too.
The woman in your life likely has photo albums or perhaps shoeboxes filled with prints of the kids, family, and favorite vacation spots…photos that may rarely get looked at anymore. The Desktop Photograph To Digital Picture Converter takes prints, slides, and even negatives and turns them into quality 3,200 dpi resolution images. Faster and easier to use than a conventional scanner, the touch of a button records an image as a JPEG and stores it on an SD card.
For a unique gift for the woman who enjoys a little luxury (and what woman doesn’t?), The Lady’s Washable Cashmere Robe offers the warmth of wool without roughness or scratching. Hand-combed from the fine, downy undercoat of Inner Mongolia’s indigenous Kashmir goats, cashmere fibers are renowned for being the softest in the world. Yes, these durable fibers withstand machine washing, or can be dry-cleaned.
If she’s a traditionalist, i.e. a chocolate lover, treat her like a queen with The Royal Warrant Chocolate Gift Box. This collection of gourmet sweets comes from the Prestat Chocolate Company, a 35-year holder of the Royal Warrant to Her Majesty the Queen. Because the royal family bestows the Royal Warrant of Appointment only on suppliers whose goods it uses personally, epicureans consider it a mark of the highest quality.
In the waning days of December, about 50 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions. And by February 1, it’s reported that 82% of those resolutions have fallen by the wayside. With a little help, you can be in the elite 18% and resolve to keep your resolutions.
According to Scranton University, the top 10 resolutions for 2014 included losing weight (#1) and getting or staying fit (#5). And today’s technology is here to assist.
Among our favorites is The Wellness Monitor. This wristband automatically tracks your daily movements and sleep cycles to determine if you are getting enough exercise and sleep. The device automatically uploads the information to a website via Bluetooth when it is within 15′ of a paired device, or data can also be synched into popular fitness apps.
Another convenient device that helps track your workouts is The Smart Pedometer. Unlike typical pedometers with miniscule memory, this activity tracker uploads data to a paired compatible smartphone to chart your movements. When the pedometer’s flip-up jack is plugged into the smartphone’s audio port, a push of a button transfers results to a free fitness app that displays data in easy-to-read graphics.
Many folks resolve that this is the year they will put together a home gym…but how about an office gym! The Elliptical Machine Office Desk pairs an adjustable-height desk with a semi-recumbent elliptical trainer to let users exercise while on the job. Designed to be pedaled at slower cadences that break neither one’s concentration or a sweat, an average user can burn about 4,000 calories in a typical workweek. Considering 3,500 calories equal one pound of body weight, that could translate to more than 50 lbs. of weight loss in a year!
To increase your chances for success, develop a strategy that lets you reward yourself at intermediary milestones and recognize that you may slip up occasionally. Keep things around that remind you of your goal. Build a small but supportive social network of others who share your goal. On the flip side, self-blame, wishful thinking, and procrastination virtually never lead to success.
Many a driver has suffered a flat tire caused by a deep pothole. If you find yourself with such a roadside emergency—and perhaps an under-inflated spare to boot—help is available from The Only Automatic Cordless Tire Inflator. This is the only cordless tire inflator that automatically shuts off when it reaches the desired tire pressure. With its integrated LED that illuminates tire valves, it’s ideal for perfect tire inflation day or night. And keeping tire pressure at the manufacturer’s recommendation ensures optimal contact between your tires and the road, improving traction.
Winter road trips of any distance call for readiness for the unexpected. The emergency preparedness kit keeps 69 essentials including sustenance, first-aid items, and tools organized and readily accessible. About the size of a toiletry case, the kit stores unobtrusively in a car or closet.
Speaking from experience, it seems a cell phone’s battery runs out of juice precisely when it’s needed most. The Hand Crank Emergency Cell Phone Charger converts one minute of hand cranking into four minutes of emergency power for a connected cell phone. It’s ideal for placing an essential call or sending a text when power is not available.
For a car that’s winter-road worthy, make sure your auto has enough anti-freeze. Keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent condensation and frozen gas lines. Make sure your brakes are in good working order. Keep the windshield wiper fluid reservoir full and carry a spare bottle of fluid in your trunk. Finally, maintain a good interval from the car in front of you and remember that even four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles don’t stop any better or faster on ice. In fact, these heavier vehicles can lose traction more easily in icy conditions.