The crazy thing is, we're not actually far off some of our fantasy gadgets of the future...
A robot vacuum that climbs the stairs
Robot vacuums are equipped with obstacle-avoiding tech to keep them from bothering the cat or crashing into your precious giant Fabergé Egg, but there’s still one obstacle we’re waiting for them to tackle; stairs. Sure, a Roomba can stop itself falling down them, but it can’t actually climb the damn things. And unless you’re a fancy pants with a separate robot vacuum for all seven floors of your house, you still have to carry your robot vacuum and down the wooden hill like a mug.
Well, we won’t be content until our robot vacuum can sprout legs, climb the stairs and suck up fluff on its merry way. And we’re pretty sure we’re not far off the dream; a company called transcend robotics has already developed a bot that can navigate steps on mini tank tracks. Make it suck, and we’re sold.
A tea maker that chills and adds milk
Is it too much to ask that our super-smart drinks makers with Bluetooth, WiFi, 12 heat settings, a companion app and voice control can add a dash of milk to our tea? Apparently so. Despite the fact that tea and coffee machines have soared to dizzyingly smart heights since the birth of the humble Teasmade, we’re yet to discover our dream machine. In case any tea-loving inventors are reading, that’s a Wifi-connected tea maker that has a compartment for chilling and adding milk, please. Oh, a mug-warming function would be pretty brilliant too.
A colour-detecting, material-sorting laundry robot
To our infinite delight, robots that help with the laundry are actually becoming a thing. A machine called the Foldimate launched this year that can actually fold, steam and press your clothes for you, and we’re seeing tons of washing machines pop up that can advise you on the correct settings and alert you when the washing is done. Our ultimate fantasy, though? A laundry basket that can sort our clothes by colour and fabric so it can do handy things like keep our woollens separate, or tell us when we’ve got enough for a white wash.
If we’re dreaming, we might as well ask that it then sprouts legs and arms and waltzes over to the washing machine to set a wash going all by itself.
This particular dream isn’t actually such a tall order. A hardware company called Willow Garage has developed a personal robot that can find, clean and fold dirty washing. It’s $280,000 though, which is just a tad outside our budget.
A household drone that can grab stuff
We’re thinking along the lines of a drone helper with extending arms and grabbers that can tidy, clean, wash up…basically everything we do with hands and arms, actually. Imagine devouring a takeaway on a Friday night and your drone servant hovering over to clear up the mess, bin the rubbish and load your plates into the dishwasher. Surely that’s what drones were really invented for, right? The possibilities are endless when you think about it. It could make coffee in mid-air, fly over to the fridge to fetch you a beer, stir your beef stew, make the bed… Someone needs to make this happen.
Developers have managed to pull off robots that do household chores, but none have even come close to fulfilling our smart domestic bliss fantasies. Robots firm Boston Dynamics have made a robot dog that can load the dishes. When it can fly, give us a call.
A dusting, cleaning, polishing house drone
A Roomba with wings is basically the dream here. Imagine a robot cleaner that can nuzzle into high-up corners of your home to scoff up cobwebs – you’d never have to lift a feather duster again. Obviously, if our robot with arms dream came true, we could just hand it a feather duster and set it to work.
The idea for flying robot cleaners isn’t actually brand new. In 2012, a student called Adrian Perez Zapata of Colombia won the Electrolux Design Lab awards with his robot called Mab – a flying robot concept that consists of hundreds of mini flying robots that clean. The idea was that the robot scans the house to see what needs cleaning, then sends its little mini robots to dust, polish, scrub and wipe where appropriate.
A hairdryer drone with style
Wouldn’t it be cool if you had a little drone friend who followed you about your bedroom in the morning blow-drying and styling your hair? While it’s in action, you could do your makeup, kick back with a cup of tea, squeeze in a mini-kip, and generally just enjoy the extra ten minutes you get back from not having to faff about with your own hair of a morning.
There could even be an app for choosing your style of the day; a hairspray dispenser; a gadget arm kitted out with various combs and brushes; extending hands that give you an Indian head massage…
Someone needs to make this happen. Yesterday.