IT used to be that cutting-edge gadgets were the sole preserve of technophiles who had the inside track on the hottest apps and hardware.

But as smartphones and increasingly sophisticated technology become part of our everyday lives, retailers are realigning themselves to cater to the growing market among the middle-classes for the latest labour-saving gizmos.

A wave of new products is about to hit the market promising to free up time for busy families, with story-reading robots, wi-fi controlled coffee machines and devices that turn your home into a supermarket, all on offer.

But some experts warn that things may be going to far, replacing good work with bad and stealing people away from the things that matter.

Tech expert Jodie Cook, director of JC Social Media explains: "I don’t think that all of these labour-saving gadgets are actually saving people time. I think that once you take into account the time spent researching them, buying them, talking about them and messing about with them, they probably don’t save any time at all.

"Over the long term I think they will contribute towards less admin and fewer mistakes, but probably at the expense of patience and tolerance. I think it’s important to distinguish between things that you do want to automate and cut out and things that you want to do more of. I would have thought that reading your kids a bedtime story was something that you want to do rather than something you’d like to outsource to a robot!

"I understand the concept of saving time on washing up so you can spend more time sleeping. I understand why someone would use a gadget to save time spent cleaning their bathroom so they can spend it with having dinner friends instead, but I don’t understand why you would save time reading your kids a bedtime story, presumably so you can watch more Netflix?

"The key is to automate the rubbish in favour of spending time on the things that actually matter."

Here's a rundown of the latest time-saving gadgets:

The Tertill

Doing the garden, for those who have gardens, can be one of the most back-breaking of chores. Yet now you can get a robot to do it for you. From roboticist Joe Jones - the brains behind the vacuum robot known as the Roomba - comes the Tertill, an autonomous weed-whacker which patrols the garden looking for invading dandelions and docken leaves to terminate with a buzz of its inbuilt strimmer. As yet it can't be trained to mow the grass, but it's only a matter of time.


For those who really, really love their coffee, the RØST is the answer to your dreams. A winner of the best new product award for technology at World of Coffee Budapest last year, the super-expensive coffee machine roasts about 3.5-ounces at a time. But its main strength is the sheer amount of control it provides to let you tweak the process to your specific tastes. It even has built-in wi-fi to monitor it via smartphone.

Story time Spidey

With all these gadgets to play with, mum and dad probably won't have time to read junior her bed-time story. But thankfully, there's a gadget for that. From Robotic toy company Sphero comes an interactive Spider-Man toy which responds to voice commands and guides kids (or adults who really, really like Spider-Man) through over 400 pages of superhero story content. Enough to tire out even the most energetic of Spidey fans in time for bed. Bad robot? Bad parent more like.

Amazon Dash Wand

Not content with taking over the online marketplace, Amazon now wants to take over your home ... shopping. Their dash wand - currently only available in the US - lets you scan barcodes on products you own and puts them instantly into your online shopping basket, ready for delivery at the click of a button. And now that the retailer has taken over fancy upmarket Whole Foods Ltd, expect quinoa, kale and gluten-free everything to top users' shopping lists.

Inactivity tracker

With so many buttons to press and widgets to twiddle, the average techie is going to be seeing a long lot of lying down time. But in case you over do it, help is at hand with office-design icons Herman Miller and Yves Béhar's Live OS. The operating system can be built into furniture and encourages recumbents to be more active during the day, delivering 20,000 volts to the body if you've been slumping slug-like for too long. Just kidding. Inbuilt sensors prompt you to change your posture or stand up or walk around. There’s even a standing desk which can remember your preferred settings, and lights up to remind you to stand up every once in awhile.

Snapchat Spectacles

These hi-tech specs are among the hottest items around, if you can get them. Originally only available from pop-up kiosks in the US, they are now appearing online. A spin-off from the hugely popular mobile phone app, the devices let you record 10 seconds of video which you can access and post online, perfect for giving relatives a thrilling minute-by-minute account of little Timothy's piano recital.

Biki underwater drone

For those tired of flying their drone through the skies, the next generation is here - a drone that swims like a fish and films underwater. Unlikely to be seen down the local swimming baths, though - as it sells for $1,000 (£785). So one for those with a private swimming hole. Might make an excellent Christmas gift for Nessie hunters. Have you not been watching The Loch?

Kuri Robot nanny

No, it's not Eve, Wall-E's robotic object of desire. Cute little Kuri is the next step in robotics, a three-foot tall 'bot who will memorise the layout of your home and cruise around on a mission to entertain you and your children. It can be trained to alert you to visitors by sending a message to your smartphone, but is more than just an ultra-expensive voice-controlled doorbell - and can also play music, audiobooks and podcasts from its four microphones while snapping pics from a camera in its eye.

Polaroid Pop

Digital cameras have ruled the roost for more than a decade, but Polaroid is fighting back - by going digital. A spin on the hugely popular camera of yesteryear, this device is capable of spitting out a fully developed photo from a digital snap.