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Latest News Flash:

Cleaning in the 21st Century:

Most of us don’t think about cleaning when we hear the word “tech”. We’re used to lots of gadgets in the car, and all sorts of innovations in our stereos, but not in the old sponge and bucket. However, there are a few new innovations in cleaning that we’re excited about. Here are the three we think you should know about. We’ve been road-testing them in our flats for a little while now, and they really work.

Robo Vacs:

Steve just got one of these for his flat. It’s one of the latest Roomba’s, and we spend the past week test-driving it to see whether it’s really up to snuff. So far, no complaints whatsoever!

Robo vacs are great because you can literally set them up and leave them. Done, dusted (pun very much intended). We remember seeing some of the first gens, and they were kind of awkward and clunky, but the latest models are great. They have bumpers to stop them scratching up walls and furniture, and the little guide wires are way less conspicuous.

Steve’s been using his for a 4-room flat, and it does a damn good job on every room. It does carpets, woods, the lot! He doesn’t have any pets, but it’s great for your everyday dust and dirt. They clean when you tell them, charge themselves, and the only thing you have to do is empty the junk after it’s full.

Now, we’re not going to say everyone should have one of these. It’s probably not practical for people with whole houses, especially if you’ve got lots of stairs.

Vacuum garbage systems:

These aren’t here in Manchester yet, or anywhere else in England at this point, but they’re all the rage in Scandinavia and Germany. We heard about them on the PRI/BBC radio show The World. You should seriously google if you haven’t seen one of these in action.

Basically, some cities have started putting vacuum tubes around apartment buildings and on street corners (even in houses). Instead of using a rubbish bin, you open the hatch on one of the tubes (sorted for recyclables and rubbish). Everything gets sucked away by vacuum power, and it’s gone in half a second.

They’re about 2 feet wide, the vacuum tubes, and they all hook up underground to channel all the garbage and recycling from a district or neighborhood to one lot underground.
Aside from the lack of lorries, the other benefit of these systems is that they compress the bloody hell out of rubbish, so it emerges the other end of the system in a really manageable package. It’s also quiet, cuts the odor out of the rubbish business, and in all the places it’s been tried, it’s been a massive success. People love it, it cuts down on litter too.

Doesn’t look like these are going to make their UK debut anytime soon, but we honestly can’t wait for them to. It’s the absolute dog’s bollocks.

Google EnVac (one of the biggest makers) to see these in action!

Steam cleaning:

If you’ve opened any glossy home and lifestyle magazine recently (and we, er… haven’t….seriously…just heard about this on the street. Erm.) you’ll probably have seen lots of adverts for steam cleaners–steam mops, steam washers, steam everything. It seemed like a gimmick to us on first glance, so we popped off to the builder’s shop to see if we could get one to test out.

First off, we tried the steam mop. We have to admit, it was a lot less stupid than anticipated. You have to sit around waiting for the water to boil, but it’s honestly not longer than it takes to fill a bucket with soap and water. The idea with these is that you can clean the floor without chemicals, so it’s greener. We also like the fact that it’s a sanitizer, since we’re both a bit germophobic. As far as cleaning, it did pretty well. We let Will’s flat get proper filthy, with a party one weekend to make sure there were plenty of beer spills and sticky stuff on the floor. The steam mop took it all off, and we didn’t have to do much scrubbing. One thing we did find is that if you spend too much time on one spot, you’ll get it pretty wet. Still, not an issue you’d avoid with an average mop. Our verdict: they’re still kind of expensive, but they’re probably the future of floor cleaning. We honestly were planning to return ours after we tested it, but we’re keeping it. It’s just so much less grotty than the old sponge routine. If you’re tired of your old cleaning routine, check out and find the best steam mop for tile floors here!

Second, we tried just a general steam cleaner. This is marketed in the same way, claiming to blast off dirt, and sanitize the surface you’re cleaning. We found it worked pretty well, especially on kitchen stuff and bathroom places where you get that accumulated gunk that’s not quite liquid, and not quite solid either. It worked really well on filmy junk in the shower, as well as grease spots. But aside from those rooms, we can’t see where you’d use it. So, what’s our take? You might want to get one of these if you have lots of tile, but if your flat or house is mainly wood, you’ll probably keep this thing in the closet (we returned ours, thanks to a nice checkout girl at the shop). 

All in all, we finished the week pretty excited about all these new gadgets. What's next? Maybe we should try one of those Japanese toilets! That'll be a story for another time.

Until then-

Watbot team

Previous News Flash:

Transport 2016: Big Changes Afoot

Just a quick post today, people:

We thought we’d round up a few cool topics we’re following in the world of transit this year!

#1 is the Hyperloop. This is Elon Musk (of Tesla fame)’s latest project. It’s a super futuristic tube travel system, like a train mixed with maglev system, all inside a tube. Super fast, super efficient, super futuristic. If you haven’t heard about it, check it out! This has been talked about for years, but it’s getting its actual testing this year, and Slovenia has been putting in bids to be the first country to install one. It might seem like something from a future Mars colony, but the Hyperloop could be a working reality within a couple of short years!

#2 is driverless cars. They’re another much-hyped development, but just like the Hyperloop, they’re getting some real-world testing this year, which could mean a very big announcement by 2017. Google have been testing their prototypes over the past year, but now Apple and a couple other unnamed companies have started reserving spaces at a big American test facility. It’s all strictly hush-hush, but we do expect some actual reports this year. Plus, now that Apple have joined the fray, we think it’s only reasonable to expect fierce competition to move the whole process along exponentially faster.

#3 is drones. They’ve been a hot topic in the past year for their role in the American and NATO military involvement in the Middle East, but they’ve also been making more and more appearances in civilian life. While Europe hasn’t been as quick as the Americans to adopt drones in more mundane roles, we across the pond are watching carefully to see what our neighbors are up to. At the moment, one of the more interesting developments is in Amazon’s program of drone delivery. They’ve been testing and tweaking on their own land for a while, and have been itching to start using the service for premium, drop-in shipping. However, the Americans have blocked the drones from operating in airspace until they can get laws passed to regulate them. So, we’re actually going to see the Amazon program make its debut in Canada. It’s probably a safe bet that if it’s a success there, Europe and the States won’t be far behind. While not everyone’s going to be using a high-dollar shipping service, it would be a very major step in drones becoming part of our everyday life.

Until next time, onward!

-Watbot team. 

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