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Your Home in the Future

Many of us watched the television show The Jetsons in our youth and dreamt of what our homes would look like in a futuristic world. Would we be flying to work? Have a robotic housekeeper? We may not have to wait until 2062 to live like the Jetsons. The future is sooner than you think.

The International Housewares Association recently hosted its tradeshow at McCormick Place in Chicago during the weekend of March 2, 2013. Carol Fowler, vice president of content at consumer reviews website Viewpoints attended the exhibition and shared some highlights.

“Here’s the thing that’s really interesting about the housewares show: you have in one spot manufacturers from all over the world, who have brought together the most innovative, cutting edge, trendsetting products for the home,” said Fowler.

Here are her picks of some of the most exciting products she saw at the tradeshow:

Zero-Electricity Washing Machine

The Laundry Pod is a washing machine that requires no electricity and very little water. This device does not require electricity, uses only 6 liters of water per load and 1/5 the amount of detergent of regular washers, according to the Laundry POD website.

“[The Laundry Pod] was really cool, it was developed by a woman who wanted a way to wash laundry without electricity and with minimal use of water,” said Fowler.  “It looks like a giant salad spinner. It has gone through several iterations and refinements and they’re working to bring the price down.”

The gadget is not automated and does require physical effort, but at a cost of around $90, it may be ideal for travelers and even those who wish to enhance their green lifestyle.

Here’s a video demonstrating how the Laundry Pod works:

Self-powered Vacuum

The Limbo Vacuum Robot generates its own energy using bacteria it collects as it vacuums.

So maybe it does not wear an apron or carry around a feather duster like Rosey, but the Limbo is one of the newest cleaning concepts at the Housewares Show. The cordless and battery-free cleaning gadget bacteria from the waste it collects to generate its own energy through a process called Microbial Electrolysis.

The robot’s “honeycomb” wheels allow it to climb stairs and even adjust according to texture’s surface such as shag carpeting.

The Limbo is currently a concept and production date is unknown; however, Microbial Fuel Cell technology has been proven as effective. It might not be long before we each have our own Limbo.

 

 

Window Cleaning Robot

EcoVacs WinBot was this year’s winner of the 2013 Innovation Award. The Winbot is a window cleaning device that cleans glass, mirrors and windows using a vacuum suction. “The most common question they get asked is what if it falls off, and they claim it’s not fallen off yet,” said Fowler of the device.

The device automatically detects the surface area of the window and uses its suction to glide over the surface and clean as it moves. The gadget is expected to cost around $300 to $400 and will be available for purchase this spring.

“The WinBot was really fun to watch,” said Fowler. “[The company] had a setup in which they had a glass wall and they had the WinBot stuck to the glass. You were able to see the underside and front of it move as it cleaned.”

Check out this WinBot promotional video to see the WinBot in action:

Robot Cook

The Kenwood Cooking Chef takes care of all steps of cooking from preparation to actual cooking.

“There is a large trend of customization and personalization now,” said Fowler.

Fowler spoke of the trends in different machines used to cook including the SousVide which after you select your “doneness” of meat, cooks it to your desired taste. The SousVide uses “water oven” technology and costs around $500.

“People are doing more entertaining at home. They want professional results in their own kitchen and they’re willing to pay a little more money to get that,” said Fowler.

Another gadget featured at the Housewares Show was Kenwood’s Cooking Chef is essentially an all-in-one personal chef type product that both preps, prepares and cooks your food.

The device costs an astounding $2,000 which may not be the most accessible price point but may save consumers money as the product encourages at-home meals versus eating out, notes correspondent Megan McArdle in an article for Newsweek.

 

Plant that Plants Itself

The Click & Grow uses just batteries, a cartridge and water to plant and tend for its greens.

It’s unfortunate the amount of times people have had to throw out houseplants due to neglect. The creator of Click and Grow, Mattias Lepp, found that in 2009 the world threw out over 26 billion dollars worth of indoor plants.

The self-tending planter inspired by NASA technology for growing plants in outer space. The Click and Grow uses only four AA batteries, a cartridge, water and exposure to light.

The device takes care of the rest from planting the seed to continually watering the plant as it grows. All you need to do is refill the water every two months. The planter and cartridge (that holds the seeds and nutrients) costs around $80.

 

 

 

Like any of the new products? Take the Poll!:
Which product would you want for your future home?

The Housewares show is the largest event in the industry and draws in a crowd of around 60,000 people while showcasing the goods of 2,100 exhibitors. (biztrade CITE)

Hear more from Carol Fowler at Viewpoints.com and blog.viewpoints.com

Photo Credits:

Click & Grow: uncrate.com

Kenwood Chef: gizmodo.com

Limbo Robot: yankodesign.com

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.