Gadgets For the Home to Entice Christmas shoppers

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press
Know someone who

**FILE** The Roomba vacuum cleaner by iRobot Corp. is seen in Boston in this Aug. 21, 2007 file photo. A newly released Georgia Tech study shows how deeply some Roomba owners become attached to the robotic vacuums, and suggests there's a measure of public readiness to accept robots in the house _ even flawed ones. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, file)

Know someone who's fed up with housework? Then this robo vac could be the answer to your Christmas shopping dreams.

Here at the recent Ideal Home Show at Christmas in London, Witt are showing off their latest range of vacuum cleaning iRobots.

Using responsive cleaning technology, robot vacuum cleaners such as this Roomba 620 - priced at £299.99 ($482 USD) - automatically work out where the dirtiest areas of floors are so they can clean by gliding across them.

Just like a human, the Roomba changes direction and cleaning behaviour according to what it encounters by using sensors to avoid obstacles, clean along edges, and spruce up around furniture.

Witt UK and Ireland Marketing Manager, Bo Simonsen, says these floor-cleaning robots have evolved from other various robot models: "iRobot has been working on this for twenty years, they do nothing but making robots they started out mine-clearing robots and space exploration robots and this is where they evolved from to what we're seeing now that can clean your floors."

The robots are certainly going down well with shoppers, some of whom see these models as a cheaper than getting a human to do the job.

"I think it's a really good product, I think it's fantastic technology and ideal for a bachelor in his bachelor flat, just what I want. It's far cheaper than getting a wife," says Ken Moxley.

But robots aren't just limited to our floors, Witt are also showing off the RoboMow - a robotic mower that senses when the grass needs cutting. It even returns to its base station when it starts raining.

RoboMow models such as this MC300 also come with remote controls built in to navigate narrow strips of grass or hard-to-reach areas of the garden.

Simonsen says the Robomow makes having to mow your lawn a thing of the past: "You do not want to spend time mowing your lawn, why don't you get a robot to do it? You set it up once, with the docking station and charging and then you time it to tell it to have it once, twice, three times a week you want it to go around and mow your lawn and then you forget about it and it takes care of itself. It goes around and follows your perimeter wire that you put down into the grass and then you don't have to do it anymore."

RoboMov models start from £919 ($1476 USD).

But, here at the Ideal Home Show, gadgets aren't just built to help around the home. UK-based gadget shop Red 5 are displaying a host of devices destined for Christmas stockings.

Take this Neon Jellyfish Tank (£59.95/$96 USD) - it features realistic jellyfish with long-flowing tentacles and colourful details lit by 18 LED lights set along the side of the tank.

Doubling as a fan and a time-keeping device, this LED Clock Fan (£12.95/$20 USD) is created using red and green spinning blades and even keeps time when unplugged and moved.

These Water Dancing Speakers (£34.95/$56 USD) use a combination of water jets and multi-coloured LED lights to create a water show in time with any tune played through them.

As always at Christmas, toys are a major feature, and this Hexbug Spider (£19.95/$32 USD) robot allows people to create a monster battle using 360 degree steering and bright flashing LED lights on its head.

Christmas shoppers will need to concentrate with these gadgets being displayed at Virgin's Smart Home.

These ears - called Necomimi - were created by Japanese tech-makers Neurowear and use brainwaves to express a persons mental state before they even begin to talk.

Neurons firing in people's brains are read by the forehead sensor then translated into ear movements on the headset.

When people are relaxed the ears lie motionless, but when people are concentrating the ears will rise and twist.

Neurowear's Necomimi ears are priced at $69.99 USD.

Elsewhere, concentration is of the utmost importance with this Mindflex Duel game made by American toy manufacturers Mattell.

This game uses a variation of brain scanning technology to read the intensity of people's brainwaves through sensors placed on the forehead and ears.

The headset then transmits a signal to a fan within the console, allowing players to control the power of the fan with their mind.

"Basically, they just monitor your brain activity and so some of them are down to your concentration, the more you concentrate the more reaction you get from the game, and some are down to basically the way you are in your mood," says Lee Baldry, Host of the Virgin Smart Home.

Mindflex Duel is priced at $79.97 USD.

From controlling balls with your mind, here another set of balls are gaining attention.

These Boon Glo Nightlights are made by toy-makers Tomy and were created as a sleeping tool for young children.

"It's no gadget that's revolutionising something or something that's gonna give the wow factor, but I personally think, specially for younger kids when they leave the light on when they're off to bed, this is great. It's basically three balls that glow in the dark but they are energised by three stalks they sit on and they can take this to the bathroom if they're going to the toilet or just one of them to bed," says Baldry.

Boon Glo Nightlights are priced from £69.99 ($112 USD).

Another gadget perfect for post-Christmas resolutions is this Kitchen Safe ($49.95 USD) built to lock tasty if fattening treats away from hungry family members.

"The Kitchen Safe has a time delayed lock which means you can lock away things for as long as you like, which means I can't get hold of these cookies, sorry these candy sticks in here, for another three days, five hours, fifty-eight minutes and forty-four seconds. The only way to override this would be to literally brake your way into it. So whatever you put in is tucked away for that time, unless you want to break it, says Baldry.

After a long festive shop, time to head home to count the cost of another holiday season.

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