High-Tech Home Devices

Posted by — March 15, 2005

By Jen Schaefer

Thanks to "smart" technology, luxury homes get safer, more functional and easier to maintain with each passing year. Following are five of our favorite high-tech devices, which promise to bring your home one step closer to a Jetsons-style abode.

1. Barcode-scanning microwave. What's more convenient than microwaving your dinner? Zapping it in Beyond's Microwave Oven, which recognizes 4,000 packaged products and will automatically set the right cooking time and temperature. The stainless-steel microwave comes with an attached scanner pen. All you do is scan the UPC symbol on the food you want to cook, and the microwave does the rest. An optional device enables the microwave to update its memory automatically from the Beyond Network database. Starting around $180.

2. Laser Lawnmower. "Smart" technology can benefit your yard as well as your home. Currently Wolf-Garten's Zero Laser Mower is only in the prototype stage, but it may be coming soon to a lawn-care store near you. Instead of conventional blades, the riding mower uses an array of laser beams to cut grass to an accuracy of 1 mm. The mower includes Internet access for on-line ordering of supplies and a CD player. It is also environmentally friendly, featuring zero exhaust emissions and a cutting system that chops grass into tiny particles that are redistributed back into the lawn. Price not available.

3. Hands-free faucet. You use these handy faucets in many public lavatories, so why not borrow the idea for your bathroom at home? A hands-free faucet makes for easier hand-cleaning, saves water and prevents the spread of germs. Some models are designed to be kid-friendly: Delta's e-Flow has an adult-temperature setting control so little ones can't douse themselves in hot water and operates by infrared sensor so it turns off if the kids forget. The battery powered e-Flow looks great, too, with six colorful interchangeable handles. Starting around $410.

4. Fingerprint-activated door lock. House keys are so last century. The Fingerprint Biometric Door Lock by Creative Vision Electronics is not only easier to use, it also offers a host of cool features, such as audit trail capabilities so you can track the users who have gained entry into your home. The battery-powered lock can be coded with up to 100 fingerprints and comes with an emergency key to use as a back-up. There's also a keypad for those who prefer using a PIN. An audit trail option allows you to download the last 800 users on your computer. Starting around $749.

5. Internet refrigerator. Don't want to invest in another computer? No problem. Bring the Internet into your kitchen with the latest line of "smart" refrigerators instead. The LG Internet Refrigerator, one of the first widely available models, has a 15-inch flat panel computer mounted to the front of its door, as well as a stylus for the screen, a video camera, a microphone and four speakers. The fridge can be used to maintain a shopping list, leave video message, watch TV, listen to MP3s and, naturally, surf the Web and send e-mails. Starting around $8,000.For information about this article, e-mail jen@luxuryrealestate.com.

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