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If you have children or have children visiting your home, then you will be sure to agree that child safety in your house is paramount. Of all the rooms in your house the ones which should be the safest, nurseries, children’s playrooms and bedrooms should certainly be the top of the list. In these rooms one of the most important areas that contributes to safety are the window coverings in the room, and how they are operated. The removal of potentially dangerous blind cords or curtain ties is often overlooked with tragic repercussions. In fact, since 1999 over 30 children below the age of 5 have died following accidental strangulation with blind cords or curtain pulls. Hundreds more sustained serious injuries, all from this standard household item.
Since 2004, RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) has called upon the blind industry to take action to reduce the risks presented by blind cords and has been working to raise awareness of the safety issues they present. In February 2014 RoSPA strengthened the child safety elements in a new European standard requiring all new blinds to be “safe by design”. This covers most kinds of window covering including roller blinds, vertical blinds and pleated blinds, but also Roman blinds, panel blinds and shutters.
Unsuitable blinds may not meet safety requirements
Whilst this will undoubtedly make new blinds much safer, many parents and grandparents may still have unsuitable blinds in place that do not meet these safety requirements.
According to RoSPA “most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom and occur in children between 16 months and 36 months old, with the majority (more than half) happening at around 23 months. These toddlers are mobile, but their heads still weigh proportionately more than their bodies compared to adults and their muscular control is not yet fully developed, which makes them more prone to be unable to free themselves if they become entangled.”
What’s more the windpipes of toddlers in these age groups are not fully developed and as such they are more susceptible to suffocation if their neck is constricted.
RoSPA does not recommend cutting blind cords but instead looking for a safe and permanent long term solution that removes the problem and ensures that children do not become exposed to cords.
Electronic blinds a simple solution
Such a simple solution would be to remove the cords entirely by installing remote controlled electric blinds or motorised curtains in all areas that children have access to. These have no dangerous cords, as the mechanism for raising, lowering and tilting the blind are all contained in a secure cartridge.
What’s more these blinds are one of the safest window coverings around, especially if there are likely to be young children in your house.
Electric powered window blinds were once just for the lucky few, but now they are more accessible than ever. The benefits of being able to install a battery or mains powered remote control window blind with no disruption to interior decoration are huge and because no wiring is necessary, effortless DIY installation is virtually the same as a standard blind.
These blinds are available online and are bespoke to you simply measure your existing window space and replace a potentially dangerous corded blind with a safe and effective electric version. It is not only a sure-fire way to improve the look of your room with bespoke blinds, but it may also be a life saver.
For more information on made to measure electronic blinds visit http://controlissblinds.co.uk.
British Blind and Shutter Association
Google Glass is nearly here for the regular consumer while Samsung’s Galaxy Gear SM-V700, a watch that connects to your phone so you can use it to answer calls, texts and email, has been out for a while. But now it seems like everyone is launching their own wearable tech, with the most interesting are these focusing on health and fitness.
Wearable wristbands that monitor your daily activity have been around for a while, with many sitting somewhere between a fitness band and more sophisticated smart-watches.
Jawbone for example dominates the market with a stylish wristband that monitors physical activity, calorie intake and sleep patterns to help you stay to your fitness goals.
Another leading maker of fitness bands is Basis, its new Carbon Steel Edition can monitor sweat output, heat dissipation, blood flow and heart rate as well being able to detect if you’re running or walking. It also offers advanced sleep analysis to help you get a better, healthier night time routine.
Sony recently announced its entry into the market, the SmartBand SWR10, which tracks movement and activity and it records on a lifelog app on your smartphone. The interesting angle that Sony have taken is that it also records your digital life, so the photos you take, the music you listen to, the places you go and your online social activity is all recorded as well. While it may be a bit too Orwellian for some people it will give you a good measure of how your daily routines break down. Maybe even inspiring you to change your ways.
Google recently revealed they are working on a contact lens that will allow its wearer to monitor their glucose levels. The lens, which has a small chip inserted into it, will help diabetics to easily track their condition without needing to resort to needles. Google are working on including tiny LEDs so that updates can be displayed directly to the user.
As this kind of tech gets more sophisticated it will be able to monitor and predict your behaviour while being able to make suggestions about sleep, fitness and eating in a way that you can maintain your health. It’s only a short leap then for this kind of tech to start talking to each other or even to your home gadgets. That way they can work alongside your fridge for instance, to monitor your food intake, or your lighting and electric blinds to send you to bed or gently wake you up.
At this time of year style magazines and industry commentators try to predict and dictate the essential design motifs that will be on trend for the year ahead. Pantone have already thrown its hat into the ring when it declared Radiant Orchid as its shade for 2014. But what other colours, patterns and textures are also set to be on everyone’s lips this year?
One of the few colours that many designers are agreeing will dominate in 2014 is blue. It’s an ideal accent colour for most rooms whether it’s a kitchen in shades of light blue or a bathroom with a navy blue feature wall. More muted shades of Teal and Turquoise will also lend a stylish feel to a living room or bedroom.
It sounds like a strange one but corduroy covered furniture is set to be big this year. It’s a fabric that you’ll either love or hate, with its connotations of bad 70s flares and geography teachers, but thick, bold textures are making a comeback and a set of electric roman blinds in a complementary material would tie your living room together nicely.
Silver and gold
There’s a definite move towards opulence and fussy detail this year, not least in the trend for pairing silver and gold together. In most spaces this can easily be pulled out with silver ornaments and gilt-edged mirrors. But patterns like flock print or stripes on your soft furnishings and blinds will help complete the look.
The fashion for bling has also found its way to the kitchen with a move to the opposite end of the spectrum from the modern, clean minimalist kitchen of previous years. This look consists of dark shades, mixed with classical motifs such as ornate cornices and bejewelled details such as crystal cupboard handles. It can come across very Victorian in style and can be topped off with a big crystal chandelier for good measure.
If any of the above doesn’t make you feel opulent enough then another recurring motif for 2014 is neo-classical sculpture, or to put it another way - big faux Grecian and Roman busts. Alongside all the other bling that’s in this year your home could end up looking very Versace and distinctly decadent.
A far simpler trend for the New Year is for honey-toned woods. So instead of the vintage, rough or untreated wood of previous years beautifully amber-toned wood with a smooth lacquered veneer is now in. It brings an easy warmth to any communal space such as your dining room and ticks both the natural and the stylish boxes.
A new development currently being planned for Bandra, Mumbai in India is making a big impression round the globe thanks to its ground breaking design. The Ohm Residential Tower has been designed by James Law Cybertecture and is based on the shapes that ripples make when splashed by a drop of water.
Rising to 30 storeys high the development promises to provide luxury living for those that can afford it. The circular, almost donut-shaped, building houses an orb-like club house in the centre, while each apartment boasts a glass-sided infinity pool on its balcony.
See more work from James Law Cybertecture www.jameslawcybertecture.com
The kind of gesture-controlled, floating computer interfaces that Tony Stark uses in the Marvel Comics inspired Iron Man movies have long been a goal for many tech developers.
Displair is one company that has managed to create a viable ‘floating interface’ that it aims to put into production. The system works by producing a curtain of fine vapour on to which a computer interface is projected. Custom-built gesture recognition is then used to detect the movement of your hands as it touches and passes through the mist, allowing you to interact with the items in the display. So it can be used to manipulate objects that are rendered in 3D on the screen or to produce visual effects that ripple and burst as you put your hand into the mist.
At the moment the price makes it prohibitive for home use but Displair is aiming at getting it into wider commercial use during 2014. But it does begin to show the way in which gesture-recognition and screen technology are combining to remove any need for physical computer interfaces.
Find out more: http://displair.com/
Got some last minute Christmas shopping to do and you’re desperate for ideas? Here’s a few clever options that will give you something to talk about around the Christmas tree:
The water-proof pool table
If you’ve ever been lounging in your pool and thought how great it would be to play a game of pool then this waterproof pool table is aimed squarely at you. It’s fully weatherproof, so you can leave it out all year round and, at $6,500, you probably don’t have to worry about spilling your drink on the baize either.
Fire Escape Shelves
These cool Fire Escape shelves from Urban Outfitter’s US webstore bring an iconic feature of countless American apartment blocks and cop shows to your home. Though they might not be the most practical of shelves they are great to look at and are a unique reminder of your time stateside.
Astronaut duvet set
If space is a problem in your home then you’ll the right equipment for exploring it. This brilliant duvet and pillow set from Dutch designers Snurk comes in both single and double sizes so big and little kids can both indulge their dreams of being an astronaut.
Classic videogame table
The Arcane Arcade Table takes it’s inspiration from old videogame tables that were briefly popular back in the Eighties, so you’ve always got somewhere to rest your drink while you’re playing. The Arcane table updates it with a simple, stylish cabinet and over 100 classic 8-bit videogames, including Bubble Bobble and Dungeon Crawl.
When it comes down to it we all want great pieces of furniture to do two things: look fantastic and be luxuriously comfortable. Designer of innovative furniture, Varier, has created a wide range of chairs that tick both of these boxes combining elegantly sculptural forms with the more practical considerations for comfort and posture.
The Gravity Balans Chair is a great example of this, it’s large gravity-defying form providing a beautifully balanced cradle for resting and napping. The recliner allows you to put it into four positions, so you can take pressure off your spine, while it improves blood flow by having your heart lower than your head and feet.
The incredible design is sure to be a talking point as well as providing a welcoming rest at the end of a hectic day.
Find out more here: http://www.varierfurniture.co.uk/Products/Relax/Gravity-balans-R
For the past few years the internationally recognised arbiter of all things colour oriented, Pantone, has announced a colour that it believes will dominate art and design in the year ahead.
Pantone use a number of sources to gauge what will be among the dominant colours of the year ahead, from the catwalk to the red carpet. Scrutinizing trends as they develop across art and entertainment to produce a complementary colour palette that will influence the creative industries in 2014.
The colour for 2013 was Emerald 17-5641, a strong turquoise colour that it described as ‘a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity’. However, next year Pantone has revealed that the colour will be Radiant Orchid 18-3224, which it described as: ‘An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, that inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health.’
If you like the look of Radiant Orchid then Pantone recommends pairing it with olive, turquoise, teal and light yellows. Or you could use it as an accent colour beside more neutral tones like grey, beige and taupe.
Find out more here: http://www.pantone.co.uk/pages/index.aspx?pg=21129
Tech accessory manufacturer Belkin’s WeMo range is designed to be a quick and simple route to home automation. It basically consists of a series of plug adaptors that can be switched on and off via an app on your tablet or smartphone and your home wifi.
You can also schedule when appliances come on, while a motion detector can also be added to trigger the lights in a room when someone enters. Because you only need a WeMo adaptor, the system is scalable to whatever range of lights and appliances you need. Making it a cheaper way to get your home automated.
The latest version of WeMo also allows you to monitor energy consumption through the adaptors so you can keep you bills down even when you’re away from home. While the WeMo Baby is a smart addition to the range using the same technology to turn your mobile device into a baby monitor.
Bang & Olufsen, maker of high-end entertainment systems, has recently set its sights on producing great sounding, interesting looking speakers for a younger, hipper market. The BeoPlay brand focuses more on cool headphones and music on the go than turning your living room into a cathedral of sound but is ahead of the game when it comes to connectivity.
The new A9 speaker looks a bit like a satellite dish thanks to Bang and Olufsen’s trademark minimalist styling. It’s almost a work of art, which is just as well since you can have it freestanding or hanging on the wall. Plus it comes with a couple of neat tricks. The first is called Magic Touch, which allows you to raise and lower the volume simply by sweeping your hand across the top edge of the speaker. The second, hidden within, is the ability to connect to your Premium Spotify account and stream your music direct from the cloud while you control it via the ubiquitous app. It promises to be so easy to use you could almost forget the £1,699 price tag.
Find out more: http://beoplay.com/Products/BeoplayA9