Techies of the ’50s boldly predicted that by now, cooking, cleaning and carting the kiddies to soccer practice would be a thing of the past. How? Super-sophisticated robots – in every home!
Sadly for us, androids haven’t exactly annihilated the average family’s housework. But we’re still smitten with crafty cyborgs – whether it’s the charming Wall-E "cleaning the Earth one cube at a time," or the return of turbo-charged Optimus Prime and company. And in fact, there are plenty of friendly robo-helpers ready to make your day a bit easier – and brighter.
So, in honor of 011110 (that’s binary robospeak for Jan. 11, 2010), we’ve rounded up a few of the handiest robot gadgets and gizmos since R2-D2.
Any mindless machine can crunch numbers. But the savvy Robot Calculator delivers much more for the cramming student, clenching a pencil in one hand and a mini flashlight in the other. A clip on the back of its head props up small notes. Or turn him around for a built-in magnet. Its arms even rotate 360 degrees – all while tackling the toughest 8-digit problems you can dish. One of the hottest items on Metro Parent’s recent "Holiday ‘It’ List," he’s available in green, blue or white for $16.95.
Asking pops to pass the salt and pepper just got a lot more fun. As its Uncommon Goods write-up declares, this seasoning-shaking duo is "more than happy to pass themselves" – thanks to the latest in wind-up technology. Just give the white "S" ‘bot and black "P" ‘bot a few quick cranks to start their steady march across the dinner table. And bonus: Soapy water won’t short-circuit this pair, which retails for $35.
Who says robots don’t have feelings? Robots feel your pain – especially the monkey variety. Whenever you’re feeling stuffy or weepy, this packet of 12 "human compatible" tissues is here to sop up your tears, post-nasal drip or drool. Need more ideas? They’re also handy for signaling surrender, according to its packaging – and, of course, calming robot monkeys. A packet is just $1.50.
Most robots are programmed for fiscal responsibility (when’s the last time you heard of robot debt?). Whether they’re saving up for circuit repair or some shiny new bearings, most prefer a practical bank like this. Covered with adorable androids and chopped into "Spend," "Save" and "Shared" compartments, this $13 cylindrical container by Mudpuppy is made of sturdy laminate and features a padlock to thwart early withdrawals.
This mini marvel is bent on conquering the world – one pencil at a time. Maybe we have a little wind-up bias here. But this "Semi-Automatic Graphite Enhancement Automaton" (as described by the marvelous ThinkGeek.com) demands mention. Click open his chest flaps to reveal a pencil sharpener. By inserting a No. 2 and twisting away, you’ve just geared up his "power core" – and away he clomps! You can use the included crank, too. And all the shavings wind up his "cranial chamber" – which flips open for easy disposal. Runs $6.95.
Got a family member addicted to the snooze button? They’re in for a rude (but incredibly entertaining) awakening with Clocky, the crazy robot alarm clock. Program your wakeup coordinates as usual, and he’ll beep away, right on time. Hit snooze, though, and he’ll leap off the nightstand and, thanks to his zippy wheels, zoom around the room in different directions for 30 seconds. Sleep through this, kid! Available in white, aqua or chrome for $40-$60.