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Dec 14, 2015

By Beth Ziesenis, Your Nerdy Best Friend

At the Western Region & CFDD National Conference in October, author Beth Ziesenis, will share secret tech weapons to increase productivity and organization at the office, but busy credit management professionals can start nerding out now to help manage the day-to-day tasks of home.

This January, Beth, also known as Your Nerdy Best Friend, attended the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and discovered new gadgets that are slowly eliminating the need for us to rush home after work to take care of life’s annoying tasks. Here’s her report on the best home automation tools for busy, tech-savvy people.


When you’re busy, you don’t have time to take care of every task. Your plants die from lack of water; your dog has to wait for dinner because of a late-night meeting; your waistline expands because of too much sitting. But the new gadgets released at CES earlier this year connect to our mobile devices to save time and hassle because we can take care of the little things with just a swipe on our phones or the push of a button. Not all of the prototypes and crazy ideas presented at CES will actually be produced, but you can bet that you’ll see many of these offered before the end of 2015.

Thanks to New Technology, You No Longer Have to…

…Water the Plants

Finally that poor, neglected plant in the corner will survive without you. The Parrot Pot is a robotic plant pot that holds enough water to keep your plant healthy for three or more weeks. Just pick out the type of plant from its database of 7,000 varieties, and the pot monitors the soil moisture and fertilizer levels, as well as the temperature and light at your plant’s location. The system will automatically feed your plant what it needs, and you can keep an eye on it with an app.

…Feed the Dog

Automatic pet feeders have been around a while, but now you can be even more cognizant of your fluffy friends at mealtime. Petnet SmartFeeder connects with an app that lets you monitor and adjust feeding schedules, order food, look up the right diet for your pet, and more. Plus it lets you record your voice to greet your pet at mealtime, all for just $249.

…Flip a Light Switch

We’ve seen automatic lights that are controlled via apps before, and this one goes a step further. Switchmate pops over your regular light switch and sticks there with a magnet, so there’s no installation. Then you can control that switch with a tap on the device or a couple of swipes through the app even when you’re still at the office. No word on the pricing, but they expect it in 2015.

…Put the Kettle on to Boil

You’re warm in bed, dreading the cold walk to the kitchen and the time-consuming chore of heating water for tea. Thanks to the iKettle from Smarter, you can stay snuggled up under the covers while you use your mobile app to send the signal to heat the water. You can program the iKettle to heat to your perfect temperature and even add personal messages to make your brewing experience a special time for you and your family – for just under $120.  Smarter also has a high-tech coffee machine that even remembers your perfect settings.

…Stand Up to Workout

The TAO-Wellness device, WellShell, lets you squish a high-tech gadget the size of a soap bar to perform isometric exercises anywhere. But at CES they unveiled a full isometric chair that lets you get a full workout without moving your butt from your seat while you watch exercise demos on your mobile device. It doesn’t look like you can buy either yet, but anything that helps lazy people exercise is probably going to be popular.

…Worry about the Baby

In the past couple of decades we’ve seen helicopter parents who hover around their kids. With the level of technology available to parents these days, we can call them drone parents. You can monitor your child’s temperature constantly with the Pacif-i Smart Pacifier, the world’s first Bluetooth monitor. And even if your little one is sick, you can share the stress with your partner using the NapTime Baby Monitor, which connects to bracelets worn by the caretakers. The system, still in beta, takes turns buzzing the caretakers so no one has to ask, “Isn’t it your turn to go check on the baby?”

…Test the Smoke Alarms

The days of wandering your house in search of the chirping smoke alarm are gone. The Roost Smart Battery (starting at $30 a battery) lets you monitor your 9V battery life via your mobile device. Not only will it tell you when to change the battery, it’ll also alert you if your alarm goes off when you’re not home.

 …Plug in Your Mobile Device

Tired of the miles of wires and cords that it takes to power all your devices? WattUp is promising wire-free charging for up to 12 devices via a radio frequency signal that your devices receive through a WattUp receiver. The app lets you choose which devices to charge and in what order, and you can even program the time of the charge.

…Count Sheep

Apparently we’ve all been sleeping poorly, and a whole bunch of companies want to do something about it. You can purchase a HugOne hub with sensors to monitor the sleep patterns of all your family members starting at $169. The system even tells you the temperature of each room, the tossing-and-turning statistics per person, and even the perfect time to wake up a kid based on deep sleep patterns. If you’re only worried about your own sleep patterns, you can don a SleepPhones comfy headband embedded with speakers designed to block out spouse snoring and deliver soothing sleep music. Prices range from $40-100.

…Take Your Own Selfie

Ever find yourself performing an amazing feat of daring alone without a way to document it? You won’t miss an action selfie ever again with Nixie, the wearable camera that you fling into the air so it can take your picture or video then return to you. This technology is not quite ready for prime time, but it’s coming.

…Tie Your Shoes

Remember the self-tying laces from “Back to the Future Part II?”  The future is here. Nike has promised that consumers will see the power laces that shore up our shoes automatically by the end of 2015.

Beth Ziesenis is Your Nerdy Best Friend. As author of several books on technology including “Release Your Inner Nerd: Apps, Tech Tools and Tips to Get Organized, Get Creative, and Get Ahead,” Beth travels the country talking to organizations about free and bargain technology.


Originally Published in June 2015

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