Fall is flu season. You can practically see it spreading, sneeze by sneeze, through offices and schools everywhere. If you're unfortunate enough to have caught it, or have someone in your house who has, you know that every surface becomes a germ covered nightmare. And unless you're running around with the Clorox wipes and have a considerate house-mate (unlikely if you've got kids), then you're probably going to get it or spread it. So in the interest of everyone's health, we've gathered an assortment of devices to avoid touching a possible germ-laden surface...
IRIS 9000 Voice Control Module for iPhone 4S ($59.99)
Everyone is talking about, and to, Apple's new Siri but you've got to have your iPhone on you at all times and press the button to get her to listen. Our guess is she'll be out of charge before you're healthy again so the IRIS 9000 is a great way to stay connected and charged without getting your phone all germ-y. Simply place your phone in the cradle, tap the button on the micro-remote and the device can hear you from up to 50 feet. It also works like a standard speaker phone and lights up like a certain other 9000.
Amulet Remote ($149)
The Amulet remote is specifically designed to work with windows media centers, and lets you takes advantage of the various multimedia stored and organized with the center. If you've got an Xbox you can use similar functionality through Kinect. A list of voice commands including "Xbox play disc" and "Xbox fast-forward" help you keep your flu to yourself. If you haven't got a Windows Media Center or Xbox you could try the Invoca 3, a universal remote that's programmable for up to 4 devices.
Solike Sound Recognition USB Lamp ($143.16)
This USB-powered, LED lamp responds to your voice or claps within 10 meters (about 32 feet). We like that it's bright and that it can work with computers or be converted into a wall plug. Though a cheaper, albeit less attractive version, is the good ol' Clapper.
Karotz Rabbit Robot ($129.99)
While this rabbit is probably best for sick kids, it will serve anybody with a need for voice control well. The Rabbit Robot will read Facebook statuses, check weather and horoscopes, deliver traffic reports and play music all in an entertaining and cute package. It also allows free phone calls over the internet and can be upgraded using a variety of apps, stickers, a USB "tail" and matching RFID devices that expand its functionality. Cute, shiny and functional, almost everything you need to weather your sickness without spreading it.
Roomba Vacuum ($349.99 - 599.99)
If you're sick for a significant amount of time it's unlikely you'll have the energy to get up and push the vacuum around. Roombas (and their mopping brethren Scoobas) are great for keeping the mess under control without supervision, be it on hard or carpeted floors. While they won't replace your vacuum entirely, they should help you make it back on your feet again without too much housework to look forward to. And if this solar powered, voice-activated Electrolux vacuum concept ever takes off you won't even have to worry about it needing to charge.
Home Automation System
Most home Automation Systems such as X10, HAI and Insteon enable a user to set up voice commands for just about anything that plugs in or uses electricity. This is the most flexible, and possibly extensive and expensive, option that serves you in sickness and in health. We like it because it's a full service solution, keeping the infirm from needing to touch just about anything. If you definitely need to not get sick a home automation system is something to consider.
Voice Controlled Microwave
Back in 2006 Daewoo promised us a voice-activated microwave. This would be perfect for our feeble, sick selves because what's better than soup when you're sick? Sadly you'd still need to put the soup inside and the project never seemed to come to fruition, though this grad student made his own. If it ever comes back we'll be the first to nuke some Chicken Noodle with our voices.