Home Tech 122 Ideabooks

Not long ago a friend let us borrow her hybrid car so we could travel from Port Angeles, Washington, to Seattle. The car was amazingly energy efficient. A really cool feature was the dashboard display, which provided constant feedback on energy use and source. For example, when we were waiting at a drawbridge, we could...
The Future of Home Automation: Cheap, Wearable and Mobile!
Home automation today is expensive and complex, and tends to be composed of proprietary solutions that have to be installed by experts. Very quickly, however, that model is being replaced by something else entirely. A wide range...
Harness the Cloud: 8 Ways to Automate Your Housekeeping
Doesn’t it sometimes seem that all of this technology that’s supposed to be helping us only makes things more complicated? Between the abundance of social media channels and gadgets, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Thankfully, there are ways...
Cook Smarter With New Wi-Fi Kitchen Gadgets
A century ago universal access to electrical power began to transform just about every manual kitchen chore as electric versions of them were created. Hand mixers became blenders. Wood-fired ovens were replaced by electric ones. Toasters and waffle irons...
In Rarefied Air: Meet 3 Cutting-Edge Home Sensors
The idea of having sensors in your home to monitor environmental conditions sounds futuristic. But really sensors have been around for ages. Thermostats, thermometers and smoke detectors have been providing useful air sensing for a long time. What’s...
Hide All Those Wires in a DIY Charging Station
Most people designate a place in their home for charging electronic devices like phones and tablets. And most people deal with the disaster zone of knotted-up cables that ensues. In my home it’s a fire hazard and a far cry from being child safe. So...
Going Solar at Home: Solar Panel Basics
Solar-powered homes were a rarity as recently as a decade ago. But a plethora of federal and local tax incentives along with increasing worries about climate change have made them commonplace. Installing solar panels can decrease your household’s...
Off the Grid: Ready to Pull the Plug on City Power?
“Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have. … Shall we always study to obtain more, and not...
How to Get That Built-in Media Wall You Really Want
Built-ins give a house a sense of solidity and permanence. They lend variety and character to an interior, reduce clutter and make the walls appear thicker — which makes the house feel much more substantial. Of all the built-ins you can add,...
Why Google Just Paid $3.2 Billion for a Company That Makes Thermostats
Update: According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nest Labs has recalled all 440,000 Nest Protect + CO smoke alarms because “activity near the product during a fire can prevent the alarm from immediately sounding when the...
3 Kitchen Contraptions You Won’t Believe
There are kitchen gadgets, and then there are expensive and technologically advanced kitchen gadgets. And then there are these three products. They perform feats of kitchen magic previously unimaginable. And they cost, well, a lot of money. Are they worth...
Ice Cubes Are Obsolete! New Technology Is Way Cooler
Still making ice cubes in a tray? It’s awkward. Water spills in your freezer while you’re putting it in. While in the freezer, the ice acquires the flavor of said freezer — and its ancient contents. When you retrieve your ice cubes, they can stick...
Here Come the Home Robots — for Real
In the 1930s futurists predicted that by now we’d all have a particular kind of robot in our homes: a humanoid robot servant. An article in a 1932 issue of the newspaper San Antonio Light envisioned the ubiquity...
New Strategies for Hiding the TV
TV placement has become a lot more discreet since the days of the bulky set with rabbit ears. Nowadays people are hiding their flat-panel screens in walls, ceilings or consoles. And while antennae and Pong (Lord, I'm really showing my age here!)...
Better, Smarter Smoke Detectors Push All the Right Buttons
Smoke alarms, which have become a standard and required feature of every house and apartment, don’t work very well. They typically emit a high-pitched tone when activated, and it's difficult to tell which direction the tone is coming from. When there’s...
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