A new iPhone and Android phone application is using GPS location technology to help families stay in touch and keep abreast of family members' locations and schedules. It's a godsend for busy families struggling to keep up with after-school activities, appointments and day-to-day tasks. Instead of other location-based software, Neer lets you choose whom you share your location and information with, then helps you manage your schedule by sending e-mail and text alerts for other members' whereabouts and schedules.
Fanny packs are so 1985. Try out the latest revision from SPIbelt, a slim, svelte number that's small enough to almost be invisible to passersby, but large enough to hold keys, lip gloss and a phone. It's ideal for jogging or running out of the house for a quick errand sans purse, and comes in 22 different color schemes -- from subdued browns and blacks to eye-popping orange and neon green.
This nifty little device cleans the air inside your home (up to a 200-foot range) with a 99.6 percent efficiency rate. While getting rid of allergens and viruses is a good priority to have, this gadget also has more practical uses, eliminating cigarette smells, dust mites, pet dander, dust and even mold. It even features an LCD screen that tracks the filtration progress in your home.
This portable case is small enough to wearon your wrist while toting your cell phone, credit cards, cash and other small carry-around items. To top it off, you can slip a photo into the 2.5" x 3.5" photo window to personalize your wristlet.
The Modlet, an energy-saving device already on the market for corporate use and coming out for domestic consumer use in a few months, is a small device that plugs into a wall outlet. You then plug your electronic devices directly into it while it submits data about energy consumption from those outlets wirelessly via Zigbee technology to your home computer. Modlet tracks your energy use trends and automatically turns off energy-sucking devices according to when you typically don't use them. You can also time devices to turn on automatically, for instance the air conditioner, and save money on energy.
Though this was at CES last year, it's still one of the coolest and most innovative technologies. The Karotz acts as an all-in-one media communication device in the shape of a plastic rabbit about 6 inches tall with 360-degree Wi-Fi-enabled rotatable ears. It acts as a webcam to monitor your home or children when you're away, detects mobile devices, alerts you when someone enters your home and "reads" news RSS feeds, social media updates and stock quotes to you. It also vocalizes weather and traffic conditions. Already available in Europe, it's coming to the US market soon.
Eton, a California-based environmentally focused outdoor gear company debuted the Raptor this year. The Raptor is an odd but especially useful all-in-one outdoor accessory that's perfect for the outdoorsy family or individual. It's a compact rubber-clad electronic device with a rechargeable ion battery and solar panels. Its capabilities include: AM/FM/WB digital radio tuner, NOAA weather alert, digital display, digital alarm clock, chronograph, audio input, DC input and mini-USB, and bottle opener.
Tocky is an alarm clock -- but not just any alarm clock. It's designed for "snooze offenders," as Tocky parent company Nanda Home calls them. This adorable round gel-skinned clock has a touch screen interface, the ability to upload MP3s and a microphone for recording wake-up messages. But the best part is that instead of just beeping or playing music in the morning, Tocky jumps off the nightstand and rolls around, making you jump out of bed to catch it and turn it off. The mobile alarm clock isn't a totally new concept, but the ability to record messages (an excellent feature for waking up kids, I might add) and the touch-screen functionality makes it a must-have for the upcoming year.
More must-have high-tech gadgets