Once upon a time, a cell phone could only make phone calls. Now, of course, cell phones take pictures, access the Web and double as GPS and MP3 devices.
New features are added to regular products all the time. This summer, the updates are showing up on everything from makeup to quick-drying baby clothes. Some of the new innovations we've found:
• Elgin mom Mindy McKegney knew there was a trend in germ-fighting products. So after two years of research and design, the former fashion designer figured out a way to make baby products - everything from bibs to bed sheets - virtually germ-free.
McKegney's new BonnBonn Baby line, launched this summer, features moisture-wicking and antimicrobial fabric that she says can kill more than 650 strains of mold, mildew, yeast, fungi and odors. If the fabric gets wet, it dries within minutes. And there's also a thermal layer that keeps babies cool in summer and warm in winter.
"It's used in the sports industry all the time, so I don't know why they didn't use it for kids," she said.
Best of all? The items are the same price as the low-tech stuff (from $12 to $36). See www.bonnbonnbaby.com.
• Back in the day, if you had a sick kid with tummy troubles, you opened a car window or hoped he got to an open bag in time. But Colorado mom Peggy Phillips' five kids got sick a lot, so she designed a vomiting kit called, YakPack.
Her YakPacks, which are now being used in several children's hospitals nationwide, include a barf bag, a scoop, a scraper, odor-removing wipes, gloves, a disposal bag and more. ($8, at www.theyakpack.com)
"I've tested it A LOT," Phillips says, laughing.
More cool stuff
Cool for Republicans: Yes, John McCain supporters. I've heard you. In response to the recent Obama T-shirts we've run in this column, please enjoy some of the "NOBAMA" shirts now being sold at zazzle.com. If you prefer to keep things positive, the Web site also sells pro-McCain shirts.
Cool for purse lovers: A high-quality handbag that can be worn 17 different ways? With a few adjustments, the Chouette can be a tote, mid-sized, hobo, backpack, messenger, belted, evening, clutch, wristlet or dancing pouch. $395, at www.chouettesac.com
Cool for hot women: Boots, the top beauty brand in the United Kingdom, now has sweatproof makeup that was tested in a sauna. The new Boots No7 StayPerfect line, which is sold at Target stores, includes lipstick and lip lacquer ($9.99), a crease and waterproof eye mousse ($7.99) and eye shadow trios ($7.99).
Cool for college dorms: The Container Store rolled out some new eco-friendly decorating products this fall, including the Graphic Can by Umbra garbage cans. They're made of biodegradable plastic and printed art on foil. A nice extra: The can's interior color matches the exterior. ($14.99, at The Container Store. Suburban locations include Oak Brook and Schaumburg.)
Cool for everyone: A fully functional PC that weighs only 2.6 pounds? Hewlett-Packard's 2133 Mini-Note has an 8.9-inch screen and is loaded with the basic stuff you need, including Wi-Fi. Starting at $499, at Costco, Micro Center and www.hp.com.