written by:
illustrated by:
July 10, 2014
Originally published in America the Beautiful
Garage Rock
Use computers and robots to keep your cars purring and gutters clean, all without setting aside an entire Sunday afternoon.
Smart home utility products

Eliminate the pain in house chores with gadgets that will do the heavy lifting for you.

1 / 8
Black device car with diagnostics smartphone app

Kiwi by PLX, $90 

Plug this into your post-1996 car’s onboard diagnostics port, and the Kiwi links to smartphone apps to explain a Check Engine light or tell you when an oil change is needed.

2 / 8
Adjustable hose with storage system

Amplifi Hose Powering and Storage System by Briggs & Stratton, $199 

Besides neatly organizing a 75-foot hose, the Amplifi lets you change the power of the stream using controls on the nozzle. Turn it on full blast to clean second-story windows or on low to water the garden.

3 / 8
Plug-in car music player with wi-fi update

Automatica by Inrete, $159 

This plugs into your car’s USB port to play podcasts, music from your Dropbox folder—anything you can upload to a cloud server. Anytime it gets near a secure wi-fi connection, it’ll update with the latest content.

4 / 8
Orange and black power cord storage sphere

Power Cord System by RoboReel, $299 

Typical reelers for power cords use springs, which can break easily. The RoboReel uses a lubricated motor that winds gradually to prevent the cord from snapping around. Mount it on the ceiling to save floor space.

5 / 8
Chargeable battery pack cube in black, silver, and green

Yeti 150 by Goal Zero, $200

With 150 watt-hours of battery, this pack can charge a laptop twice or a smartphone 15 times. The integrated AC port means you can operate household appliances during a blackout. Charge via solar power or by plugging into the grid.

6 / 8
Robotic gutter cleaner in black and yellow

Looj 330 by iRobot, $300 

Sit the Looj’s tank treads in a gutter and it runs along, spewing out a season’s worth of gunk—no need to lean precariously on a ladder. Set it to go automatically, or control it remotely.

7 / 8
Battery tender

2520 Battery Tender by Clore, $110 

With all the systems running in modern cars, monitoring the battery is vital. Hook it up to this tender when you you’re not driving: It brings the battery to full capacity and shuts off before overcharging.

8 / 8
Smart home utility products

Eliminate the pain in house chores with gadgets that will do the heavy lifting for you.

Photo by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan.

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