that, but at least many of us have stopped vacuuming our
floors. Yes, as of late 2004, more than a million people had
purchased the $200.00 Roomba robotic floor vacuum
from iRobot ( www.irobot.com).
Well, maybe having an oversized hockey puck
wandering around your house isn’t all that romantic, but
owners generally report that it actually works. The
Roomba has infrared sensors that allow it to follow walls
and avoid falling down stairs, wheel-drop sensors that
stop the unit when it is lifted, and a bump sensor that
keeps it from interfering with furniture and other objects
on the floor.
It also employs a flapper-and-brush system to pick up
large particulates and a high velocity nozzle that sucks up
small particles, such as dust. The latest Discovery and
Roomba Red models add a system called Dirt Detect that
senses particularly dirty areas and tells the robot to
concentrate on them until they are clean.
One reviewer noted that his Roomba (affectionately
named “Monica”) doesn’t do stairs or baseboards, requires
frequent emptying, and can leave dirt when moving from
tile to carpet.
However, he noted that it provides a cleaner house,
with very little effort and at an affordable price. Now, if
they can only get it to feed and walk the dog, we would all
Humidity Sensor/Controller Introduced
If your latest design employs sensitivity to moisture or
temperature, you may be interested in the HS-2000C
humidity sensor/controller from Precon, Inc. (www.
preconusa.com), which combines analog moisture and
temperature sensing with dual channel on/off control
Based on user requirements, high and low limits are
embedded in the device at the factory and it can be
configured for either direct or reverse action. The two
outputs will equal either zero or the supply voltage, which
can range from 2 to 5 V. Proportional control, LCD display,
and various packaging options are also available. The
dime-sized HS-2000C is a little pricey at $35.00, but it is
available in small quantities with no programming charge.
Accuracy is rated to ±2 percent, with good stability from
- 30 to +100°C.
Industry and the Profession
Things Sneaking Under Your Hood
For many years, “black boxes” have been used in
commercial aircraft to gather and retain crash data.
You may not be aware of it, but similar devices are now
appearing in noncommercial Earth-bound vehicles,
including passenger cars and trucks. In fact, the devices
were installed in all 2004 General Motors cars and several
In its usual standardization role, the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE,
www.ieee.org) recently published IEEE Standard 1616
for motor vehicle event and data recorders (MVEDRs),
which is the term for equipment that collects, records,
stores, and provides readout data about your vehicle’s
The information includes vehicle speed and changes
in velocity, how many occupants are in the car, seat belt
use or lack thereof, braking and steering data, geographic
location, direction of travel, and other items, all linked to
dates and times.
Proponents of MVEDRs argue that the digital data can
complement accident information collected from victims
and witnesses, improve vehicle design, reduce fraudulent
insurance claims, and provide other useful benefits.
However, many privacy advocates doubt the desirability of
giving insurance companies and law enforcement agencies
the ability to download a history of everything your car
has experienced from the very moment you took it home
and to use this information against you in unfortunate
If you have any misgivings, it is now time to make
them known to the auto companies and your elected
3& .(<%2$5' (08/$7, 21
,QWHUIDFH .H\ERDUGV 6ZLWFKHV DQG 56
WR \RXU 3& .H\ERDUG ,QSXW
&(!!#x87!!); 36 .H\ERDUG
&(!!#x87!!); 8S WR [ PDWUL[
&(!!#x87!!); 56 3RUW
7KH .( LV WKH XOWLPDWH LQ IOH[LELOLW\ ,QSXWV IURP NH\SDGV
VZLWFKHV RU VHULDO GDWD FDQ HPXODWH DQ\ RI WKH NH\V IURP
D VWDQGDUG NH\ERDUG
&(!!#x87!!); [ PDWUL[ RU
&(!!#x87!!); µ [ µ VL]H
&(!!#x87!!); 36 .H\ERDUG 3RUW
7KH .( SURYLGHV D TXLFN
DQG HDV\ LQWHUIDFH WR WKH
36 SRUW IURP \RXU VZLWFKHV
(/(&7521,& 6 ,1&
)LGGOHUV *UHHQ /DQVLQJ 1<
ZZZ KDJVWURPHOHFWURQLFV FRP
Circle #70 on the Reader Service Card.