Technology has long been used to aid and enhance our life. At its highest (and yes I do mean most expensive) form there are tools available to cater for your every whim - you can have a robotic maid, automatic dishwashers and computers that wake you up with a personalized hello and back massage tailored to your needs... There are also toilets that analyze your waste matter and suggest what type of nutrients you're lacking..if you must go that far!
Computers have shifted from being lumbering behemoths to super sleek devices which continually keep shrinking and the word netbook is now all the rage. Everything is slimmer sleeker, and shinier nowadays, but how does this actually affect you?
The top end of the scale would be devices used in surgery, I'm talking tiny robots that you swallow which dissolve in your blood to help doctors monitors your insides and perform surgery, and robotic hands used to perform operations with incredible finesse. Currently, nano tattoos are being developed for diabetes sufferers, which are tattoos infused with a special ink which changes colour based on your blood sugar level, which would do away with the need for daily injections. Impressive stuff huh?
In today's society image is seen as al important, hence the rise of the Apple brand- no denying their computers are great but you have to admit that half of the cost price is for the style. Why should we not treat our bodies as gadgets- tools we refine and update every time something new comes along. It's not cheating, it's making the most of what we have with the tools at hand.
I'm going to address the thorny area of appearance which is bound to cause controversy. You should always accept and try and be comfortable with yourself but that soften easier said than done. I'm not suggesting using electronic gadgets as an alternative to a healthy lifestyle, but you'd be surprised at how many ways they can aid you in your quest for well-being.
Let's start off with the home. I'm not much of a cook or a cleaner myself, and the microwave has long since been a firm friend of mine. As for vacuuming, well that can be turned into a fun activity if you choose to use one of the many robotic cleaners around. The most well known is probably the Roomba, an electronic cleaning device that turns hoovering into fun. OK, it will set you back around £250 from John Lewis, but that's a small price to pay for never having to lug a vacuum round again. The Roomba is a sensitive machine and won't fall down stairs due to 'virtual walls' you can set up which restrict it from rolling itself into the furnace.
It's intelligent and will go back to base when its battery is low and will automatically recharge itself. You can set up a schedule so it will go to work when you're out and will simplify chores as it can go under sofas and he hard to reach areas, and you can even get versions that mop floors and clean drains.
Next let's get that lighting sorted shall we? When you're feeling blue you may find that sad lamp eases the pain as spending at least half an hour a day in front of a light therapy lamp can ease those blues considerably. A lot of brands makes them nowadays and I love the Philips energy light which I have on my desk at work, as I find it gives me a nice perk. The light mimics natural daylight which us Brits are sometimes missing.
Now I'd like to address an area that people can be sensitive about- their fitness and diet. We all know we should exercise regularly and eat well but sometimes it's so hard.. and Rolos taste so good. Well there's no magic gadget that can just melt fat (we call that lipo) but there are health and fitness aids that can keep you in shape.
I'm a fan of PowerPlates,those large vibrating machines that looks lightly scary, and can attest that they produce really good results. A 20 minute session is equivalent to about an hour of resistant work, and though they're not a cardio exercise they'll definitely help improve the tone of your flesh.
If you're looking for hardcore cardio with a twist there's a device called the X dream which you might enjoy- half exercise bike, half computer game. A session on the bike lets you burn fat whilst navigating a bike assault course and as you twist and turn the handle bars you can be hooked up to a network and race other people!
You have to bear in mind that though these gadgets may cost a fair amount of money they will actually save you cash long term if you tote up their price as opposed to regular salon visits.
I'm sure you're wondering where the Wii into all this, and yes, it is an easy entertaining way to get your heart rate pumping;-don't see it as a replacement for real exercises though, but game like Wii Fit and the soon to be released EA Sports Active involve many activities and stretches that teach you healthy attitudes and enhance your overall wellbeing.
For those who are Wii-less there's stuff for you to, as you have a variety of options. You could choose jog on, a device you clip to the leg that syncs with the PS2, you need to play the game and move at the same time, -with zero movement the game will conk out.
Then we have the Samsung fitness phone, the miCoach which works as a pedometer and saves music tracks for different workouts, as well as lets you hook up your results to their website to monitor progress. It will even give you motivational phrases like speed up whilst your working out, though I think promising you chocolate might work better. If that's too much hassle, there are a variety of phone apps you can try. As long as you have a compatible phone there a fitness tool for you, and I'm not just talking iPhone-centric here.
Let's take a look at the Android phone. This platform has many, many options, my favourite so far are calorie Counter and Buddy Trainer- one lets you record what you eat every day, update your weight and fitness goals, and even includes a barcode scanner so it can work out the calories of what you've eaten. The trainer gives you support when working out and a variety of GPS maps to let you choose outdoor running trails.
Blackberry has some similar ones, such as Sendo Calories which lets you calculate your daily calorie consumption with ease and Nokia the sports tracker app which gives you the time and distance of your workout and lets you upload your route and connect to other exercisers online. The iPhone has a zillion of ones to choose from, from iFitness and FitPhone which both provide you with detailed exercises to target different muscles in the body.
There also the Nike + option, the hi tech device that you place in your shoe which should measure your steps and can sync with your iPod to feed data about your run to you, like paces and calories burned.
Now you're in shape it's time to address grooming. Keeping stylish at home has never been so easy as there are now tools which give you salon results at a fraction of the cost. Let's start with one area that has boomed over the last year- that of home laser hair removal gadgets., yes you heard that RIGHT, you don't need to got to a salon and pay £200 a pop, now you can use salon quality products at home.
They will set you back fair whack- prices start at 200 going up to 700 , but when you tally the cost against salon visits and multi-usage time you save a lot of money. Market leader would have to be the Tria which has just released a second generation version which is faster and more effective. These lasers work by using red light that turns into heat energy inside the skin that's attracted to the hair pigment and destroys the follicle, Of course hair grows in various stages, so you do need to repeat the treatment regularly to catch it in the different stages of growth and you'll get permanent reduction, so you won't be 100% hair free, but it's still a noticeable difference.
Pretty impressive huh?
Next up we have the complexion. We all want smooth spot free skin and due to the nature of stress hormones, the changing climate and everyday hassle that's not the case. Whilst I'm not suggesting you bin all your Clearasil there are devices out there to help. The Zeno Pro and the NoNoskin would be two such ones. They work by using heat and light to target the blemish at its source and minimize its appearance and lifetime on the skin.
The NoNo green and red light to reach into the pore to combat the blemish at its source. The light destroys the blemish whilst the heat speeds up the healing process, and reduces swelling. The problem is that this device can't be used on any acne, so sufferers beware. It's not suitable for comedonal acne (white heads and blackheads) or severe acne, but anyone who falls into the middle groups of moderate pustules and pimples can be treated. They're also not cheap, clocking in on average at around 120 which may give one pause forethought. They do work however, but results are minimal.
What else can we add to our gadget arsenal?
How about Nutriheat straighteners? They may not replace your GHDs but they do infuse the hair with vitamins and silk proteins thanks to handy disposable packets,. Body feeling little slack? How about some home skin tightening with the Pose? This little beauty works by using radio frequencies to tighten sagging skin.
You pass the device over the skin , using a conducting gel and the device emits low level power beams into the dermis which heats it and helps shrink fat cells. The heat also stimulates the metabolism and collagen production, making your skin look and feel firmer.
Sick of wearing contact lenses every day? Ok, there's no home laser eye treatment available, but you could opt for igolenses, new special lenses which you wear overnight and then take out in the day, leaving you free to rune round or swim with perfect vision and no irritation, they're not a concept, there a reality and work by being contoured to press down on the cornea overnight to reshape it temporarily. They're not cheap- you're looking at £250 outlay and then £40 a month, but it gives contact haters hope.
This leads us to our final room of the house- the bedroom. It's nice to get intimate in here and it's nice to spice things up but sex toys tend to have a bad rep here- with many people thinking they're for women only and they tend not to look very couple or male friendly.
Well wouldn't you know it, Philips have released some couple friendly warm and intimate massagers, that look nothing like the sex toys we know and love (rabbit) and are high tech too, one for him, one for her, contoured ergonomically to fit snugly into your hands. They also are heating, which means you get a nice warm sensation and come with stylish LED candles for some hi tech loving and they even charge inductively in the case, when you place the device in and shut the lid- so no wires are needed.
So there you have it,a wide ranging selection of gadgets to improve every aspect of your home life, from making your cleaning easier to your skin clearer. It's good to know that these products exist, and we can hope that in years to come they'll get even more refined, so we'll truly be beautiful both in the inside and the outside.