1. Use Fingerprint Readers on Doors. By replacing the existing lock on your front door with a fingerprint reader, all they need is their greasy little paws to get into the house. Multiple fingerprints can be programmed into the lock, so there’s plenty of room for everyone in your family to use the device. Check out www.fingerprintdoorlocks.com.
2. Keep Backup Keys Safe with Secret Codes. Back up the fingerprint door lock with a key box that holds a pair of conventional keys in case you need them. The KeySafe from GE (www.gesecurity.com) attaches to the exterior of the house and can only be opened by punching in a secret code.
3. Talking Alarm Clocks Offer a Productive Start. Clocks like one from www.kprobe.com can wake you up by speaking the current news headlines and local weather. It can even remind you of important appointments.
4. Light Timers Guarantee You’ll Get Up. Add a timer to the light switch in your bedroom. The In-Wall LCD Timer from Leviton (www.leviton.com), for example, can snap on the lights every morning at 7 a.m.
5. Use Cellphone Tracking to Monitor Kids. There’s ballet at 6 p.m., tennis practice at 7 and who knows where your kids are at 8. Wireless telephone providers like Verizon are beginning to offer tracking services that let parents always know where their kids are. Similar to a GPS, the Chaperone service (www.verizonwireless.com) sends a text message to parents when their child (equipped with a cell phone) travels outside a predefined area.
6. Get a Robotic Maid (Really!). You can shave off hours of time by investing in a robotic vacuum like the Roomba from iRobot (www.irobot.com).
7. Use Home Automation for Common Tasks. The air is still warm enough for a few more outdoor barbeques, so why keep dealing with that stubborn patio umbrella when you can just press a button on a remote to open and close the canopy? Check out www.hammacher.com, www.smarthome.com and www.add-a-motor.com.
8. Keep Your Pets on Schedule. Pets often feel the brunt of a time-pressed family. Make sure Fido gets fed by replacing his food bowl with an automatic pet feeder. Check out www.petmate.com.
9. Charge Gadgets with Universal Docks. It’s tough to keep track of multiple cell phones, mobile music players and PDAs, much less keep them all charged. A universal docking station like the PowerStation Organizer from ReSource Inc. can handle all of your handhelds. See www.cyberguys.com.
10. Find Relaxation in Printed Pages. It may not be electronic (not yet, anyway), but a good book is always a great way to get back to basics.
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