The Rockwood Files: We’re still waiting…

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Earlier this month, technology experts from all over the world gathered in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show, where the latest and greatest gadgets are unveiled. The place was a virtual sea of smartphones, e-readers and netbooks. I know a few men who would rank the CES show right under Heaven, in terms of the best, happiest places to be.

I like new, cool gadgets as much as the next person, but I’m irritated with today’s inventors. They’re just not making the right kinds of stuff.

For example, one of the popular products demonstrated at the CES show was a small helicopter that can be controlled by an iPhone. You just tilt the phone to guide the helicopter which comes with built-in cameras and “augmented reality” games so users can play “shoot-em-up” games with one another.

Really? Do we seriously need an iPhone-controlled helicopter so we can play even more games? Wouldn’t it be more useful to have something like – oh, I don’t know – a laundry robot?

Every year after news of the CES show is published, I’m disappointed that there’s STILL no laundry robot. Clearly, we need more inventors who realize that the majority of us have way more laundry than we have extra time to play helicopter games.

Also making a splash at the electronics show was a television that’s only slightly thicker than a Saltine cracker – less than seven millimeters. And there’s also a remote control with a small screen on it so you can watch a different channel when your wife won’t let you switch it off of Dancing with the Stars. But given that most households have at least two television sets, was this new development – cool as it may be – terribly necessary?

I don’t really need my television to be as thin as a cracker. Heck, I’d settle for the thickness of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. What I do need is some hard-working robot to gather up my whites and bleach them. I need it to do at least one load of darks every other day. And I definitely need it to fold the mountain of clean laundry accumulating in my bedroom. (Have you ever noticed that if you leave a pile of clean laundry sitting around long enough, it gets so wrinkled that it begins to look a lot like dirty laundry again?)

I know I shouldn’t complain. My ancestors had to clean their clothes in a stream against a rock or with a knuckle-busting washboard and bucket. I’m fortunate to have a washing machine and dryer. But something tells me that, if inventors are clever enough to figure out how to fly helicopters with a cell phone, they ought to be able to forge ahead with the much-needed laundry robot, too.

There is at least one bright spot, however. One of the award winners at the CES show is a robotic cleaner that can dust or wet mop hard floors without human assistance. The “Evolution Robotics Mint Automatic Floor Cleaner” can track where it’s already been so it doesn’t miss a spot. I’m betting the inventor behind that one was forced to clean the kitchen floor a few times and got inspired to do something about it.

So perhaps if we locked a few inventors in a laundromat with filthy clothes and no helicopters to play with, rockwoodheadshot2010compressed2.jpgI might finally get the beloved laundry robot of my dreams. If only…

Gwen Rockwood is a busy wife and mother of three who wants her freakin’ laundry robot RIGHT NOW. To comment on this post, click the word “comment” below. To read previous installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. 


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