As a rule, home appliances aren't thrilling. The public isn't interested in hearing about incremental innovations, and the only time folks dig into the tech specs and reviews is when they need a new coffee maker, washing machine, dishwasher, or vacuum cleaner. And when you need one of those things, you need it NOW. And then you won't think about that product category until your current model becomes irreparable. Occasionally though, design and ingenuity intersect in a way that fuels domestic dreams of a Jetsons future. Here are two recent darlings of geek home gadgetry that are available at – where else – the store with the most tech expertise and know-how, Best Buy:
* More than ten years after it was first introduced, the Roomba finally brought robotics out of factories and into our homes. No, it looks nothing like the Rosie the Robot Maid but the latest version of the iRobot Roomba 770 does a marvelous job navigating the unstructured environment of most homes. And of course it has fantastic hacking potential as an inexpensive robotic platform. From telepresence robots like this one built by Institute for the Future's Nic Weidinger to hacks that turn Roombas into roving musicians, there are myriad ways to elevate the Roomba beyond its status as a mechanical maid.
* In the 1980s, industrial designer and passionate maker James Dyson developed and evangelized his take on the vacuum cleaner that negated the need for the replacement part that virtually every existing vacuum required over and over: a bag. In the 2000s, he also took a unique approach to traditionally boring fans and space heaters. The Dyson - AM05 Hot + Cool Fan Heater has no blades. It looks like a portal that you might reach through to access another dimension. The fan has an electric motor in its base that pushes air through a slit in the ring, producing a hot or cool breeze without fast-spinning blades or exposed heating elements. Even as he continues to explore new ideas in home appliances, Dyson is encouraging a new generation of makers and tinkerers with his James Dyson Foundation to support design engineering education.
Go check out the latest and greatest high-tech appliances like these at your local Best Buy.