162. The Clapper

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If you have two hands, you can't help but applaud the original Clapper. First sold in 1985, it worked with a lamp or any other electric device. You plugged the Clapper into an outlet. Then you plugged your lamp into the Clapper. By clapping twice, you turned the lamp on or off. It was a convenient gadget that also became popular with handicapped people. TV commercials showed grandma lying in bed reading. She put her book down, clapped twice, and went to sleep with a big smile on her face. She didn't have to reach for the lamp switch or get out of bed and turn off the wall switch. The only problem with the original Clapper was that your barking dog, or your neighbor's dog, could also turn your lamp on or off.

The current Clapper works with two lamps or other devices, such as radios and TVs. TV commercials show grandma reading in bed while the TV is on. She puts the book down, claps twice to turn off the TV, and claps three times to turn off the lamp. Then she goes to sleep with a big smile on her face.

Clapper Plus is a big hit, too. It can be adjusted to respond to the loudness of your clapping. It has a light to indicate if you are clapping loudly enough. It has an "Away" setting for security; when you're not home, Clapper Plus will automatically turn on a light or the TV if it detects a noise. The light or TV should help scare away intruders. Clapper Plus also comes with a remote control, so that if grandma is extra tired, all she has to do is click the remote. The two versions sell for about $20 and $30.

A $40 version might be in stores next year. Because many people feel that clapping or clicking is "a lot of work," the company is developing a voice-operated Clapper. The ultimate goal, said a Clapper spokesman, is a thought-operated Clapper.


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