Opening today in Chicago, The International Home & Housewares Show targets the $265 billion world of housewares retailing – and all its gadgets and technology.  The US share of that pie is a whopping $58 billion!

I’ll be there through the end of the show on Tuesday cruising up and down the aisles at the massive McCormick Place convention center checking out all that’s new in household goodies ‘n gadgets.  Monday you might catch me on TV visiting via satellite on morning shows to share some of the products on display.

I have had the opportunity for an advance peek at a few of them, which I will detail below, but there is so much to see and, as usual, so little time, so I invite you to visit the show organizers online and learn about what the exhibitors have on display.

Start at www.housewares.org.  From there, check out the categories:  Clean & Contain; Dine & Design; Wired & Well; Patio Park.  Click HERE for a complete list of Show categories and listings. Search for exhibitors or download the entire 2005 Exhibitor Lists as a PDF file!  What’s new?  Click HERE.  Show News is HERE.

What have I already seen?  Well, let me tell you . . .

Shark is showing their next generation $80 Professional Sweeper, along with their new Mini Hand Sweeper.  The cordless Professional Sweeper picks up what normal vacuums can’t handle because of its unique brush roll action.  It’ll tackle those wet and soggy messes and dry debris, even little nuts and bolts.  Everything is deposited in its easily removable dirt cup for easy disposal – or recovery.  So, nothing valuable will ever be ruined or get stuck, like in a regular vacuum.  And, it weighs less than five pounds!

The battery is said to run up to an amazing 80 minutes of cleaning time per charge.  It is equipped with bright LED headlights for dark corners and under tables.  I also like the telescoping handle and powered side brush that helps clean up in the “crack” between the carpet or floor and the wall.  The $30 value handheld Mini Sweeper is ideal for pet hair, table tops, furniture and stairs and is free when the Professional Sweeper is ordered on the Web through the above link (until they change their minds!).  The mini outperforms most larger and noisier handheld vacs.   I tried them both and they work as advertised!

The New Vileda Pro Wring Mop by O-Cedar is an innovative twist mop that features Collectex strips, which pick up 25-percent more dirt than traditional mop strings.  This MicroFibre scrubbing area is great for dried up spills and scuffmarks. The patented wringer easily removes excess water … keeping hands clean and dry.  I really like this feature:  The mop head is removable and machine washable to help reduce the spread of dirt and germs.  Refill heads for the Pro Wring are available nationwide – you should change them about twice a year.  For more information visit www.vileda.com.  This mop worked wonders on my kitchen floor!

This is the hard part of my job wherein I get to test products like this! The latest from HoMedics is the Therapist Select™ Shiatsu Massaging Cushion, which provides a massage that feels almost like the hands of a professional masseuse. The portable cushion is perfect for whenever or wherever you need to de-stress because it fits easily over most home or office chairs. HoMedics developed the cushion using patented technology, which contains a moving mechanism that travels up and down the back, kneading out tight spots and invigorating sore spots.

A programmable hand control lets you to customize by choosing a full, lower or upper back massage. These are affordably priced at around $100.

Brand new and introduced at this show are three new Tanita InnerScan Body Composition Monitors that showcase the newest technology in body composition analysis.

They add six new monitoring features and provide information never before available from a consumer scale – for a total of nine monitoring areas!  In addition to weight, body fat and body water percentage, InnerScan monitors muscle mass, daily caloric intake, metabolic age, bone mass, visceral fat, and provides an overall physique rating.

These scales actually tells people what they are made of! The three models of Tanita InnerScan Monitors will be available this spring priced between $90 and $120.  Visit www.tanita.com.

By the way, all measurements are calculated by using bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), the same method used in Tanita’s scale plus body fat monitors. They are all very sleek and fit in with any décor.

Another show introduction you learned about first right here is the new First Alert® ONELink product line features a series of networked WIRELESS smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that provide the earliest warning of potential danger because when one alarm sounds, they all sound.

These alarms communicate with each other wirelessly meaning you don’t need an electrician to connect them!  To create a network, you simply install two or more First Alert ONELink alarms in different areas or levels of your home.  Alarms enabled with ONELink smart technology will communicate with each other and are equipped with distinct carbon monoxide and smoke alert signals.

For example, if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are detected in your basement and you are in your upstairs bedroom, all of the new alarms will sound the carbon monoxide alert signal, alerting you to the emergency.  These new products make it possible for all homeowners to have the best in total home safety without huge costs or hassles.

First Alert OneLink products will be available at Home Depot starting in June.  Visit www.firstalert.com for other information.  This appears to be the most innovative safety-related home product I have seen in many years. If you already have an existing hard-wired smoke and CO alarm system, One Link can be utilized within your own system to enhance protection by adding additional alarms. “One Link” is designed to work with existing hard-wired systems and will allow all units to communicate with one another. Bravo First Alert!

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