Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gutter-Cleaning Robot Honored

by Broderick Perkins
© 2007 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom - A slender, 2-inch tall, remote-controlled robot, fitted with the power to clean and able to clear 60 feet of gutter in 10 minutes, recently won top honors as the most innovated home appliance this year.

iRobot's "Looj" (you guessed it, sounds like "luge") cleaned up in the Best of Innovations Design and Engineering Award category at the 2008 International Consumer Electronic Showcase.

The show was hosted earlier this month by the Consumer Electronics Association.

Sweeping the judge's highest scores in the home appliance category, the Looj joined its iRobot dust bustin' cousins Roomba (vacuum) and Scooba (floor washer) as the third iRobot in four years to run away with the innovation award.

The company also makes a pool-cleaning Verro robot, a shop sweeping Dirt Dog, and the latest, the more digitally aware ConnectR, a rolling robot that sends and receives audio and video via the Internet.

The Looj uses rechargeable battery power to drive tiny tractor treads and an auger spinning at 500 revolutions per minute to sweep through and toss out gutter debris, making an otherwise dismal job faster and safer.

Pop the robot in the gutter, detach the wireless remote that doubles as a handle and forget climbing up and down numerous times, repositioning the ladder to get at a short stretch of gutter when cleaning it by hand. Looj scoots under gutter straps and spins its three-stage auger to dislodge and remove dirt, leaves and other debris, which can cause water damage, spillage and ice dams.

Available for $99, the Looj robot goes to work for up to 30 to 45 minutes after a 15-hour charge of its 7.2V Nickel Cadmium battery. It will get the job done in standard K-style, aluminum, copper, metal or vinyl gutters, but even innovation has some shortcomings.

It can't clean antique-style wood gutters or half-round gutters. Before Looj can, well, luge down your gutters, you'll have to measure them to be sure the gutter straps are uniformly at least 2.25 inches high off the bottom of the gutter and the gutter must be at least 3.25 inches wide.

With proper clearance, Looj will brush aside dry and wet leaves, pine needles, pine cones and other debris typically found in a gutter.

Don't expect the little gutter robot-that-could to clear hardened mud or sediment, small trees or large sticks that may be stuck in your gutter.

Clean the Looj by simply hosing it off with water. Hang it with the rest of the power tools.

Then use the time saved to perform more deferred maintenance on your home.

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© 2007 DeadlineNews.Com

Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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