Two companies -- Evolution Robotics and RoboMop -- displayed battery-powered cleaning robots at the International Housewares Association show that runs through Tuesday at McCormick Place in Chicago.
Evolution Robotics' Mint automatic floor cleaner uses GPS technology to map a room and give it a once-over and then makes a second pass, getting into corners.
"It actually maps the room every time you turn it on," said Mike Dooley of Evolution Robotics. "It wouldn't really save much time if it remembered the layout because you never know where the dog is going to wind up."
The Mint can use Swiffer wet or dry cloths, or microfiber cloths that will be sold separately. The units are scheduled to roll out in the fall for $250.
A similar, simpler unit is being unveiled in the U.S. market by RoboMop. The cage-like unit houses a little black ball with a gyroscope that rolls around the floor to sweep up hair and dirt. It will sell for $49 with the sweeper cloths going for $7 for a box of 20.
Other gadgets were less high-tech.
Liette Tousignant was tired of waiting for her husband to help hang pictures, so she came up with the Hang & Level, a combination tool for marking the exact placement for a nail and a level to make sure the picture is straight once it's on a wall.
"I was so frustrated," Tousignant said in explaining how she came up with the concept. "Men just don't understand why this is important."
Zibra is offering a series of Open It tools, including a cutting device that makes opening clamshell packaging a snap and a bottle-opening tool that takes the pain out of twist caps.
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