The latest in hacker-proof babies, cool dogs and seeing like Iron Man

CONSUMER FORUM

Posted April 18, 2016, at 8:27 a.m.

A few years ago, most of us thought we’d never see the day that cars braked by themselves in emergencies. Soon, virtually every vehicle made will include this crash avoidance feature.

Insurance companies already reward drivers of such cars with lower premiums. And it’s hard to argue that avoiding a collision isn’t a major technological advance.

Consumers usually pay for such safety improvements when manufacturers all sign off; the cost of the upgrade is borne by future buyers. When the consuming public is left to its own devices, their spending priorities tend to be, well, diverse.

Consumer Affairs, at consumeraffairs.com, alerted us to a couple of safety devices worth noting. First-time parents may have read with alarm about hackers who hijack baby monitors.

They may want to check out a monitor made by Project Nursery that uses secure, wireless technology. It’s expected on the market in May.

Also for nervous parents is the self-installing child car seat. As its name implies, it’s goof-proof. That’s good news for the large number of people who put in the seats incorrectly.

If you need help, there’s an app for that.

Concerned about headphones blocking ambient sounds, such as a boarding call at the airport? The Economic Times of India found a new music player that’s strapped to back of your head. The sound vibrates through the skull bones and makes its way to the middle ear, which recognizes the vibrations as music.

“Don’t worry, the technology is perfectly safe,” the site gushes without elaborating.

Among the more notable gizmos for our pets might be a portable air conditioner that attaches to the back of a dog house. It spreads cooler air inside, keeping man’s best friend cool on sticky days.

Then there’s an on-collar monitor to let owners know what the dog has been up to all day — marketers say it can help to analyze behavior and health trends.

The site gadgetreview.com has some gems. There’s a black T-shirt that looks like the Iron Man suit, complete with “chest-mounted uni-beam that is powered by photons.” It collects light, then gives it off when the person wearing it goes into a dark room.

There’s other stuff you didn’t know you needed until you saw it advertised. Here’s the one-liner of the week, also spotted on the gadget review site: “Slippers with sound makes pretending you’re a giant robot fun.” Your results may vary.

A Web search of “best gizmos 2016” returns 156,000,000 results. We didn’t check very many, but we’re betting few of them offer much in the way of guarantees or even try to be “best.”

The takeaway is unlimited sources for those interested only in bright, shiny things. For those looking to truly make their lives better, research, shop around and invest wisely.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit https://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

 

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