Geeky Gadgets for Your Apartment

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Technology affects all aspects of your life—from the movies you watch to the car you drive. But technology can help solve problems in ways you may not have previously contemplated.

Tracking electricity

In an apartment community with submetered electricity billing, theoretically you only pay for your usage. But who really knows what goes on behind the wall, where the wiring leads to the meter. Ever wonder if you really are using as much electricity as reported, or if the appliances the landlord provided as all that they could be energy-wise?

We all know that refrigerators are big energy hogs, but what about other electrical appliances? Whether it’s your laptop, television, stereo, or George Forman grill, the helpful Kill-A-Watt electronics usage monitor can help you track what appliances or household items are using the most energy in your house. You can then adjust your usage accordingly, or just keep cranking up the electric bill if you’d like. The gadget plugs into any wall outlet, and you plug your electronic appliance into the device so it can monitor the appliance’s use of electricity. The Kill-A-Watt shows readings in Volts, Current, Watts, Frequency, Power Factor, and VA (Vrms Arms), which you can compare to your electric bill and use to calculate the cost of appliances. The Kill-A-Watt is affordable and easy to use, and will surely help you save a few bucks on your next electric bill.

How safe is my water? Test it!

Whether you’re a Brita aficionado or a die-hard tap-water drinker, a Watersafe Test Kit will provide you with accurate and possibly surprising information about the contents of your drinking glass. These kits test for bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates, chlorine, pH level, and hardiness, and alert you of the need to make the appropriate adjustments for your health or best water usage (adding softener to your water tank, for example). What doesn’t get filtered out by your Brita may surprise you, so pick up one of these to make sure you hydrate in the healthiest manner possible.

A creative kitchen

Whether you’re an expert cook or incapable of doing anything more than burning a slice of toast, you might want to check out Vita CraftRobotic Cookware The attractive pans work with a special computerized cooktop to thoroughly cook food without exposure to open flames. The pan itself, not the cooktop, becomes hot and cooks the food through a special type of magic called induction cooking. The mysteries of this culinary technique may escape your technological comprehension, but you might want to give robotic cookware a try anyway because a) it is incredibly cool and b) it uses specially programmed recipe cards that reduce your chance of screwing up a dish. The kitchen-incompetent will welcome the opportunity to eat something that might actually be cooked properly, and the expert chefs may be aided in their quest to compile a seven-course dinner by allowing one of the courses to basically cook itself through the magic of computers. If you’re a gadget geek, this system is definitely worth checking out.

Clever clean-up

Too lazy to clean the floor? Check out these maybe not-so-high-tech floor-sweeping shoes that won an excellence award at the 2005 Taiwan International Design Competition. Created as much to unite couples or housemates as to clean the kitchen floor, these shoes are reminiscent of that childhood desire to “help” your mom clean the floor by sliding around it in your increasingly dirtier and dirtier socks. More effective than a worn-out pair of tube socks, these floor-sweeping shoes are not only award-winning but also multi-functional. Step into them to wash away your dirt and cleanse your relationship with your housemates at the same time.

Too lazy to walk across the floor to clean it? Consider an adorable and affordable robotic vacuum, which can clean your home for you while you’re not around. These high-tech little critters roam your rooms, sucking up dirt and using built-in sensors to navigate around obstacles. They can even sense when they’re getting near stairs, and turn away to avoid a fall. You can set the vacuums to shut off after a certain amount of time related to the size of the room being cleaned. Cleaning your carpet has never been easier or more fun!

A caveat: vacuums (especially after a long period of heavy use) don’t always clean as well as you’d hope. Consider buying a black light to check just how clean your Roomba got your living room, and think about getting a new vacuum or servicing your old one if the black light reveals a truth you don’t want to see.

Bathroom bliss

You might already have a waterproof radio in your shower, but what about a waterproof TV? The innovative company Aquavision is working hard to keep you entertained 24/7, even while you’re soaping it up. Check out their collection of attractive flat-screen TVs that won’t fog up in the shower and even come with waterproof floating remotes. Never thought you’d see the day, did you?

Mold can be a scourge in any room of your apartment, but the bathroom is especially at risk due to its consistent dampness. No matter how brief you keep your showers, the dampness will seep between tiles, into walls, and generally invade your living space, making your bathroom a balmy paradise for mold spores (gross, but true). Thankfully, the Mold Test Kit can help you determine whether or not mold is present in your apartment. Even if you keep your place spic and span, mold can be growing in hard-to-see or hard-to-reach places. Once you confirm the presence of mold, you can work with your landlord to get it cleared up and avoid the health hazards associated with it.

Monitoring the temperature of your apartment can be a huge help in determining how you can save energy and funds by running your climate control devices only as needed. This high-tech temperature recorder will help you determine when your apartment is at what temperature, and what you can do to correct that. If your apartment is at its coldest at noon, when you’re not home, that’s fine—but you may want to schedule your heat to kick in extra hard at 4:30, if possible, so you can truly get a warm welcome home.

Just for you

Many manufacturers now offer highly advanced shoes that conform to every aspect of your being—physical and spiritual. Whether you’re cruising down the sidewalk wearing the adidas_1, which uses a computer in its sole to detect your weight, build, and balance, and make adjustments accordingly, or yoga-ing it up in the Puma Chapora, which has magnets built into the soles for “holistic benefits,” your shoes are no longer just ways to keep your feet off the ground. Instead, they’re high-tech enhancers of your everyday lifestyle.

Believe it or not

And if you’re ever just too tired to climb up the stairs to your fifth-floor walkup, or to run downstairs for a snack after you’ve gotten ready for bed in your townhouse, check out this patent application for a teleportation device—something that would certainly make all our lives easier.

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