Do It (Housework) Yourself! With the Help of Technology

The weather’s so nice, you’re probably looking for any excuse to be active. If this means it’s time for some work on your homestead, car or office, consider that the time-tested toolkit is being remade with the best of today’s technology. We picked our favorite reborn standbys—and the most interesting emerging home tech.

Robomow RL2000


You’re familiar with the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, right? This automated lawnmower (starting at $2,339) works similarly, learning the intricacies of your yard. The blades stop moving when you lift it, there are child safety locks, and you can even choose to protect the system from thieves with a PIN code.


Lowe’s Iris


Consider Iris the wireless command center of your home or office. Using your mobile phone or tablet, control all kinds of appliances and devices with the tap of a button: Adjust the lighting, assign temporary-access PINs for pet sitters, be alerted when strangers approach, or program the place to set a comfortable temperature before you arrive (and save energy when you’re gone). The standard subscription service is free and starts with two months of premium service (which includes many more customizable options, at $9.99 a month).


Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi


If your car was made after 1996, it most likely has an OBD-II port where Delphi’s unassuming black box ($249.99 with $35 credit on activation fee) can connect and gather information about your car’s performance. It’s synced with your smartphone, so upcoming issues don’t catch you off-guard. Plus, it turns your device into a key fob to unlock your car in emergencies and tracks its position via GPS.


Simplicikey Remote Control Electronic Deadbolt & KeyCloud


Control this $199 deadbolt remotely using a wireless fob within a 50-foot range. Just tap a button and you’re in. From your hotel room in Tokyo, an app will allow you to check whether your door is locked, assign pass-codes to family and create security protocols (always lock at 9 p.m., for instance).


Bosch Digital Wall Scanner GMS120


Few tools produce more bad jokes than the stud finder—men point it at themselves (“stud found”); women point it at men (“nope”). Despite its timeless comedic value, this simple magnetic tool was due for a reboot. The LCD screen on this $79 scanner walks you through the process, alerting you to not only nails in the wall, but also dangerous live wires. It can even detect steel buried in 4.75 inches of concrete.


Milwaukee Tool M12 Fuel Drill Driver Kit


The brushless motor of the M12 Fuel line eliminates the friction and heat buildup of standard power tools, which means this $179 drill pulls less power from its rechargeable battery and uses it more efficiently—all without sacrificing performance.


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