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She's always on time. She never complains. And she's cute too. Meet CoWorker, the office robot. About 3 ft. high, this Pentium-powered bot uses sonar sensors to keep her from bumping into walls and people as she rolls along at a languid one mile an hour. A digital camera perched atop her rotating, cranelike neck can wirelessly transmit pictures of remote assembly lines, construction sites or high-security areas straight to the boss. A home version, tentatively planned for the future, might keep an eye on granny--or the nanny.
--INVENTOR iRobot --AVAILABILITY In 2002 --TO LEARN MORE Visit irobot.com
in the closet
Hate ironing? A fashion house in Florence, Italy, has developed a wrinkle-free shirt that also makes a distinctive fashion statement. The sheer, silver-hued Oricalco is made of titanium-alloy fibers interwoven with nylon. Just toss the shirt (shown here wrinkled on one side) in your suitcase before a trip, then take it out and blow it with your hair dryer to dissolve the creases. (A second version rolls up its own sleeves on hot days to save you the trouble.)
--INVENTOR Corpo Nove --AVAILABILITY Next April, for $4,000 --TO LEARN MORE Visit www.corponove.it
Even if you don't give a hoot about antibacterial soaps and surfaces, here's one good reason you might consider buying a pair of antibacterial shoes or boots: odor control. That's right--the fewer microbes taking root in your footwear, the better your shoes and feet are likely to smell. Teva's entire 2002 line of sandals will be coated with AgION's silver-based antimicrobial compound. Many hunting boots from Rocky Boots (shown below), Georgia Boot, LaCrosse Footwear and Thorogood Footwear already incorporate it.
--INVENTOR AgION Technologies --AVAILABILITY Now --TO LEARN MORE Visit agion.com
NEXT TIME YOU'RE IN ANTARCTICA
Forget the down jacket, the long underwear and the extra-thick scarf. Designed for extreme cold, the North Face MET5 jacket can keep you warm all by itself, thanks to a network of microscopic, waterproof heating elements woven into the fabric. Working a control unit stashed near the chest, you can dial the heat up to 114[degrees]F. Small lithium-ion batteries keep the juice flowing for up to five hours.
--INVENTOR Malden Ventures, Polartec and North Face Research, Design & Development --AVAILABILITY Now, for $500 --TO LEARN MORE Visit thenorthface.com
POCKETFUL OF SILICON
You may be a gadget freak at heart, but there's no need to look like one. On the outside, Dockers' Mobile Pant appears to be an ordinary pair of tailored slacks. But tucked inside its waist seams and hidden behind zippers on the legs are three extra mesh-lined pockets for stashing everything from your cell phone to your PDA. One piece of advice: make sure you unload your cache before passing through airport metal detectors, or you'll be outed as a geek faster than you can say Palm Pilot.
--INVENTOR Dockers --AVAILABILITY Now, for $52 --TO LEARN MORE Visit dockers.com
A NEW WAY TO KEEP FOOD COOL