Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hug the Sheets and a Light Goes On


WALLACE AND GROMIT take note: the next time the alarm sounds and you need breakfast in a hurry, a newfangled comforter could let you signal Mr. Coffee from bed.

With sheets and towels crowding the marketplace, rival manufacturers are striving to stand out. And in perhaps the most unusual merger of textile technology and electronics, WestPoint Home is introducing washable bedding that communicates wirelessly with lights and appliances. A simple squeeze tells dyes in the fabric to start talking.

This week the company presented smart bedding and other interactive furnishings to store buyers at its showroom in New York. One new product will be available next month: a Cinderella-theme coverlet that lights up like Broadway and makes the sound of a fairy godmother's wand sweeping through the air.

For grown-ups, WestPoint Home displayed a deep blue coverlet that keeps itself busy turning a chandelier on and off. Enabling this to work requires wiring the chandelier to an outlet, but once that's done options abound: plug in a coffee maker or a television and they will be activated too, allowing countless seconds of additional bed time in the morning.

The company's poly-fill pillows, meanwhile, can nudge you toward the land of Nod with an embedded speaker that makes the sounds of twittering birds or lapping waves. Other pillows will tune in a radio station, operate a television or hook up with an MP3 player.

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