This 18-year-old thinks he’s found a way to cut your electricity bill in half

ottobox is a smart outlet invented by teenager
When I was 16, I spent my evenings doing homework, watching Fresh Prince of Bel Air reruns, and talking on a landline. Ameer Sami, on the other hand, was inventing a smart wall outlet — mostly because his mom was always nagging him when he’d forgotten to turn off the lights. Maybe that’s why, at 18, he’s chief engineer of a company called Ottomate.

Ottobox Smart Outlet PhoneThe company recently launched a Kickstarter for its smart outlet, Ottobox, which Sami claims can reduce homeowners’ energy bills up to 50 percent by eliminating “vampire power.” When your TV is plugged in to the wall, it’s still drawing power, even when it’s turned off. However, with the Ottobox acting as middleman between the outlet and the plug, your devices will stop sipping on energy when they’re not on.

The Ottobox is a 1.5-by-1.5-by-4.25-inch rectangle that’s slim enough to allow you to fit two on one outlet. A ring of LED lights surround the three-pronged plug, so you can get phone notifications. There are also two USB ports on the Ottobox. You connect the smart outlet to your Wi-Fi network, so you can control it through the accompanying mobile app from anywhere. Its included Bluetooth technology, which means you can also set up proximity sensors, so the lamp will light up when you get close with your phone.

Sami and his team — which includes a CEO, engineer, and developer — say the Ottobox is smart enough to learn your habits and schedule after only a couple weeks, so it will have your coffee maker start up right before you wake up. In order to achieve a 50-percent reduction in your electricity bill, they suggest a one-bedroom home should have three Ottoboxes, a two-bedroom home needs four, and six is the right number for a house with four bedrooms.

Early birds can get a single Ottobox for $50, but then the price then goes up to $80, and it will ultimately retail for $120. They hope to start shipping in December. You can give it to your parents for Christmas and ask them why they didn’t yell at you more for not turning out the lights. Who knows what you could’ve invented by now?

Emerging Tech

How MIT hacked horticulture to cultivate a hyper-flavorful basil plant

At MIT, Caleb Harper used his personal food computers to alter the climate in which he grew basil. Exposing it light for 24 hours a day changed the flavor profile of the plant, making it spicier and stronger.
Smart Home

Philips Hue users can activate their favorite routines through Google Home

Philips Hue expanded its Google Home integration through the Gentle Sleep and Wake routine. Just give Google the proper instructions are your lights will brighten or dim over half an hour.

Did Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown fall victim to the Madden Curse?

Join us as we take a tour through the long-running history of the Madden Curse — and Tom Brady's recent accolades. We all know John Madden is a longtime NFL talent, but is he also an agent of dark forces?

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Smart Home

Alexa, Google, Siri put their bilingual skills to the test in translation battle

One Hour Translation, an online translation company, compared how Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Siri stack up against one another in regard to translation capabilities. The results may surprise you.
Emerging Tech

Drown out noisy neighbors and rest easy with these white noise machines

Some people are more sensitive to sound during sleep than others. Luckily, there are a number of white noise machines on the market to mask the noise. Here are our five of our current favorites.

Amazon drops prices on Nespresso coffee and espresso machines

Amazon has dropped prices on Nespresso coffee machines and a milk frother in an Easter week sale. Nespresso's coffee appliances use single-serve capsules and one-button selection to produce barista-quality espresso and coffee at home.
Smart Home

Whip it, blend it, and mix it up with the best hand mixers of 2019

A stand mixer takes up a lot of room on the counter, and it can also be quite expensive. Need an option that's not only affordable but also takes up very little real estate in your kitchen cabinets? Check out these hand mixers.
Smart Home

Power through your afternoon slump with the best espresso machines

Brew professional-style espresso drinks and become the envy of your neighborhood with one of the best espresso machines on the planet. We have options across a range of price points, perfect for any budget.
Smart Home

Watch: Police responding to an alleged buglary find a Roomba, not a robber

Police officers in Washington County, Oregon responded to a call of a potential burglary and were surprised to find the perpetrator was actually just a Roomba. Body cam footage of the encounter has been released.

Amazon slashes Easter Week prices for Dyson vacuums and air purifiers

Amazon slashed the prices on many Dyson high-tech products, including vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, and more for Easter Week. Dyson's premium household tools attract millions of fans and Amazon took deep discounts on popular products.
Smart Home

What you need to know before buying a new washer and dryer

Washers and dryers are big, expensive appliances that you'll want to last for decades. Our buying guide will help you sift through all the options and find the best machines for you.

Amazon and Best Buy halve the price of the Facebook Portal for Mother’s Day

Amazon and Best Buy both cut the price in half for the Facebook Portal smart display for Mother's Day. The Portal's smart camera will follow you as you move around the room during video calls. The Portal also has Amazon Alexa built in.
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.