Category Archives: News

Vision Health is Key – Do You See What We’re Saying?

This month is National Eye Exam Month, time to give thought to what we can do to improve our vision health, including a professional examination. Your eyes are among your most important assets, and even minor steps that reduce eye strain, relieve dryness and eliminate squinting 83223_1000x1000will give you the unique gifts that come from seeing more clearly.

Unlike incandescent bulbs that produce glaring, yellow light, this eye strain reducing floor lamp’s fluorescent bulb generates clear light that enables clearer vision. Simulating the color fidelity of natural sunlight, the bulb illuminates books, crafts, or computer screens with a distortion-free glow. The energy-efficient bulb lasts up to ten times longer than a typical bulb, too.81967_1000x1000

Recommended by ophthalmologists, these soothing goggles relieve dry, puffy eyes. Simply warm the included gel packs in a microwave and place them inside the goggles to stimulate tear production and the release of beneficial oils from the eyes’ meibomian glands to ease the discomfort of dry eyes. The goggles’ eye cups are lined with soft foam and the adjustable strap ensures a comfortable, proper fit. These goggles would also make an ideal unique gift for anyone who suffers from sinus headaches.88737_1000x1000

These lightweight screen-reading glasses filter the blue light emitted by computer, tablet and smartphone screens to help prevent eye fatigue and discomfort. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the glasses have magnified lenses infused with melanin to enhance contrast while shielding against high-energy visible blue light that causes eyes to tire while reading on screen. These damaging blue rays can also lead to macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as insomnia. The protective glasses can be worn over prescription lenses or contacts.

The unique gift of sight is one that can never be replaced, so if you have not had a thorough eye exam recently, contact your optometrist or ophthalmologist today to ensure you enjoy good vision for years to come.

Turning a New Page in Our History of Innovation

At Hammacher Schlemmer, we take great pride in being the first to bring you revolutionary new technologies, usually via the pages of our long-running catalog. But with our First Augmented Reality Catalog, the innovative technology is the pages!

AUGMENT Last Chance 2014 FC_BC_Page_1After downloading the free Hammacher Schlemmer app for iPad, simply scan the specially marked interactive pages in our catalog to overlay a three-dimensional image that literally jumps off the page and onto your iPad’s screen. You can zoom in and out, spin the item 360º, play videos, and access helpful information such as user manuals and customer reviews with just a touch. Items can even be purchased directly from the app. It’s the next best thing to visiting our landmark Manhattan store in person.

Hammacher Schlemmer’s reputation for innovation usually centers on its products, with good reason. Among the revolutionary items we’ve introduced are such household staples as the pop-up toaster, the microwave oven, and the cordless telephone.

However, throughout our 166-year history, we have also pioneered progressive conveniences that greatly enhanced our customers’ shopping experience. We were one of the original 271 subscribers to the Bell Telephone Company, one of the first stores to install electric lighting, and among the first online retailers during the 1980s. Augmented Reality continues this rich tradition of innovation.

Blending the familiarity and convenience of a traditional catalog with the multimedia capabilities of the iPad, our new Augmented Reality Catalog lets you interact with our unique products in a new way that’s not possible with any other catalog. It’s the next evolution of catalog shopping, and it’s only available from Hammacher Schlemmer.

The free Hammacher Schlemmer app can be downloaded from or from the iPad app store. For more information about The First Augmented Reality Catalog, please visit

Adding a New Dimension to Doodling

Do you like to doodle? How would you like to doodle in 3D?

The World’s First 3D Printing PenThe World's First 3D Printing Pen lets you create three-dimensional freehand plastic drawings. Instead of releasing ink, this pen extrudes warm thermoplastic that hardens within seconds.

You can download blueprints of a 6″-tall Eiffel Tower, a napkin holder, or even Istanbul’s Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Just trace the designs and mend them together with the 3D pen. With some practice and a steady hand, you can even draw in the air to create a bird’s outstretched wing or connect two faces of a cube. Imagine the unique gifts you could create for friends and family!

The 3D Printing Pen has been used by artists to craft display pieces for the Museum of Modern Art’s Design Store window in New York City. An aspiring fashion designer used the pen to create a collection of wearable art. The pen has even been used to create parts for use in robotics.

As amazing as any 3D printer is, this pen is even more versatile, thanks to the freehand ability it offers. A Kickstarter campaign made the pen a reality, and now this amazing pen can put the magic of 3D printing right in your hands, too.

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.

Hammacher Schlemmer’s Landmark Store Offers a Fresh Look at Innovation

Hammacher New York Store InvitationOn Wednesday, November 20th, 2013, Hammacher Schlemmer will unveil its newly renovated landmark store in downtown Manhattan. The reimagined space features updated lighting, modernized display cases, and a new floor made of solid stone and hardwoods, providing an exceptional environment in which visitors can examine in person the innovative, problem-solving products for which it has become known for over 165 years.

Hailed in more recent years by The New York Times as a “renowned purveyor of bizarre gadgetry and elegant gifts”, “a mind-boggling treasure house of esoteric items” by the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, and “the darling of potentates and all manner of celebrities” by Town & Country, Hammacher Schlemmer began as a hardware store in New York’s Bowery district in 1848—a full 13 years before the Civil War began.

It quickly gained a reputation for offering some of the best tools to be found in the city. If an industrious mid-19th century New York craftsman needed a mortise gauge, saw bummer, or plumb bob, he sought it from Hammacher Schlemmer either in-person or by phone—in 1876, the store was listed among the initial 271 original subscribers to the New York City Bell Telephone directory.

A natural result of its burgeoning business, the company published its first catalog in 1881. Now the industrious craftsman could send for a hard-to-find tool not commonly found elsewhere. In 1896, it became one of the first retail stores to install electric lights. In 1902, when there were only 600 “horseless” carriages in New York City, the company opened the first auto parts department. Perhaps the greatest compliment to its reputation was provided in 1916, when Czar Nicholas II sent for one of every item in the store for use as manufacturing masters in anticipation of the Bolshevik Revolution.

To accommodate a growing assortment of products, the original store moved locations within Manhattan, finally arriving at its present location at 147 E. 57th Street in 1926.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the name Hammacher Schlemmer became synonymous with innovation. It introduced the first pop-up toaster (1930), electric razor (1934), and steam iron (1948), followed in later decades by the first electric can opener (1956), microwave oven (1968), and telephone answering machine (1968).

Visitors to the store in those days browsed among velvet-lined display cases after a greeting from doormen donned in tailcoats, the early manifestations of a fine shopping experience and superior customer service legacy that can be encountered today. Such an experience has compelled heads of state, royalty, stars of stage and screen, and captains of industry to visit the store to investigate its innovations. In addition to visits by those bearing the well-known names Vanderbilt, Morgan, and Rockefeller, F.D. Roosevelt favored kitchen equipment while J.F. Kennedy purchased an electric bed. The Beatles purchased as gifts hundreds of The Nothing Box—a sealed box with colored bulbs that flashed in a random sequence. Alfred Hitchcock purchased steak knives for use in his film Torn Curtain.

More recent innovations include the first automatic coffee maker (1973), cordless telephone (1975), pocket television (1983), portable DVD player (1998), TV wristwatch (2003), and the slide-to-digital picture converter (2007).

Although perceived by many over the last 16 decades as the store to find intriguing gadgets, Hammacher Schlemmer has always viewed its offerings as functional problem solvers-——it has always believed that the unusual should be exceptional, and the exceptional should be the norm.


New York’s Gray Lady Celebrates Her Birthday

For 162 years, The New York Times has delivered the news to more people than any other local metropolitan newspaper.

new-york-times-birthdayThe paper was founded on this day in 1851 (three years after our business was established) as The New-York Daily Times by George Jones, a former banker, and Henry Jarvis Raymond. Raymond was both a journalist and a politician, a dual career that surely would be considered a conflict of interests today.

The very first front page ever published of this iconic paper exemplifies why its nickname is the Old Gray Lady. The vast majority of front pages from the life of the paper have been preserved for posterity. You can even get a copy of The New York Times’ front page from the day you were born, or any other date from 1934 to 2012. Your framed reproduction will be mounted in a wood frame and protected behind plexiglass. This beautiful memento also contains a circulated penny, nickel, dime and quarter from the year.

The New York Times was not the city’s first newspaper, but many of the others published up to that time were considered “class journals,” made up for particular classes of readers. Today, we might call that niche marketing. But the founders of the Times endeavored to present all the news of the day from all parts of the world, for everyone. The motto of the paper became “All the news that’s fit to print”. As readership has shifted to online content, the Times’ website uses the motto “All the news that’s fit to click.”

Even with the industry trend to online, the Times remains the third-largest circulation newspaper in the U.S. (behind The Wall Street Journal and USA Today).

Google Search engine celebrates 15 years with a candy bar.

Google LogoFrom a Silicon Valley garage to a name so synonymous with searching, it’s become a commonly used verb…today marks Google’s 15th anniversary.

The company began as an outgrowth of a research project by two PhD candidates at Stanford University in 1996. Larry Page and Sergey Brin originally named their new search engine “BackRub” because the algorithm involved checking backlinks to measure the importance of a site. The eventual change to Google is actually a misspelling of googol, the number 1 followed by 100 zeros.

If Google wasn’t already the world’s foremost search engine, it has diversified its offerings with an email platform (Gmail), a browser (Google Chrome) an office suite (Google Drive) and a social networking site (Google+).

But much of Google’s growth in recent months has been with its Android smartphone operating system. In the second quarter of this year, 79% off all new smartphones shipped globally were Android phones. Nearly 1 billion smartphones and tablets in use worldwide operate on the Android system.

After naming the first two versions of the OS Alpha and Beta, all releases of the Android system have been named after sweet treats, in alphabetical order: Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

And this week, to celebrate its 15th year, Google has announced that the next release will be titled Kit Kat. In a tie-in with Hershey, the owner of the Kit Kat brand in the U.S., specially marked Kit Kat candy bar wrappers offers the buyer a chance to win a Nexus 7 tablet, a Google Play app credit or a Kit Kat mini candy bar.

The Sky(lab) is Falling, the Sky(lab) is Falling!

In July 1979, the nation was obsessed with listening to cassette tapes on Sony’s new Walkman, watching the Wimbledon wins of Bjorn Borg and Martina Navratilova…and calculating the odds that space station Skylab might fall on our heads.

Sky LabUsing leftover hardware from the Apollo program, NASA created Skylab, the United States’ first manned space station, and launched the craft on May 14, 1973. For the next nine months, 2,000 hours of scientific and medical experiments were performed on board, collecting vast amounts of data and proving that humans could live and work in space for extended periods of time.

With every Skylab mission, a new record was set for time spent in space, with the third and final crew spending 84 days. NASA strived to offer a “highly satisfactory living and working environment for crews”, with room for personal privacy and recreational activities including books, music players, playing cards, and other games. However, it was a window with a view of Earth that was the favored means of relaxation for astronauts.

One additional mission was planned that would have deployed the Space Shuttle to move Skylab to a higher orbit, extending its life further through repairs by future Shuttle missions. However, development of the Shuttle was delayed and ultimately the Skylab was left in an orbit that was expected to last until at least the early 1980s.

Intense solar activity heated the outer layers of Earth’s atmosphere, causing Skylab’s orbit to decay faster than expected. Facing the inevitable, NASA made adjustments to reorient the space station in such a way that it would return to Earth over the ocean. Reentry began as predicted on July 11, 1979, but a miscalculation resulted in a 4% error, with the station burning up more slowly than expected. The largest pieces broke up in the atmosphere, but debris rained down on an area of Western Australia.

By this point, Skylab’s reentry had become an international event. Popular items for sale included hats and t-shirts sporting bulls eyes. Wagers were placed on the time and place the space station would hit.

The San Francisco Examiner even offered a $10,000 prize for the first piece of Skylab delivered to its offices. Two dozen pieces were recovered by Stan Thornton, a 17-year-old from Esperance, southeast of Perth. A Philadelphia business man flew Stan and his family to San Francisco to collect the prize.

In a way, Skylab still survives today. Two flight-ready space stations were built, but only one was ever launched. The second craft, known as Skylab B, is on permanent display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Your Urge To Splurge Is About To Surge

Go ahead, indulge yourself…today is National Splurge Day. Consider it time for a little laid-back pampering or your opportunity for something totally outrageous.

Your splurge can be spontaneous or something you’ve planned for years:  a new pair of shoes, that shiny red sports car, a trip to an exotic location, or maybe just an extra 20 minutes on your lunch break. The best part is you decide how to indulge and then go for it.

One example of a splurge-worthy item is the world’s largest chocolate bar. Once you recover from the world’s largest sugar rush, we have some other suggestions for treating yourself extravagantly and unexpectedly.

Few things in life are as satisfying as a nice, long snooze. You know you deserve it! But if sleep eludes you, The Productivity Nap Pod provides a rejuvenating space for those 20-minute power naps.

Feeling reinvigorated, next you might want to work off some calories (see chocolate bar above). A long walk provides countless benefits for the body and the mind alike. No time for a good hike? The Elliptical Machine Office Desk is the adjustable-height desk that pairs with a semi-recumbent elliptical trainer to let users exercise while on the job.

After work, it’s time to splurge on quality time with friends. Fete your crew to waterborne cookouts on The Barbeque Dining Boat, a circular ship with a built-in barbecue grill, umbrella, and trolling motor that entertains up to 10 adults. An even more informal option is The Hot Tub Boat, a watercraft with a relaxing hot tub for six built into its handcrafted teak deck.

If nothing else today, give yourself the freedom to fantasize about those things that you’d normally dismiss as frivolous or unattainable, whether they exist in material form or otherwise. For more ideas to satisfy your urge to splurge, check out our extraordinary selection of the unexpected.