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Innovation is empowering the control freak in us all. Once an insult, now being called a "control freak" is almost a compliment. Orange alerts, Amber alerts, Air Advisories, breaking news, all work to crank up our personal and community FUD factor — fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Coming to the rescue is an ingenious spectrum of innovative products and services that plays to the mainstreaming urgency to take control.

Before we take a peek at some cool products on the control front, I want to point out that there is indeed a Control Freak Revolution afoot. The outdoor living market is a significant indicator. In 2004 the outdoor living market represented $62.5 billion in patios, outdoor kitchens, play areas, gardening plants, and gear. That's a big number, but when you realize that this is a jump of $2.4 billion in one year, you've got to step back and ask why. This is much more than a sudden love of nature: It's a move to create a secure, fun, tricked-out, backyard fort. More time spent at home is less time having to deal with events out there and out of your control. After all, if you can't feel safe in your own backyard, where can you?

Home Secure Home
Thanks to wireless technology, a home security system no longer needs an engineering team to install and maintain. Neither does it have to cost big bucks. For DIY control freaks, Smarthome's SecureLinc II Wireless Security System, about $230, is just the ticket. All you need to install it is a screwdriver, drill, wire strippers, and a couple of free hours. Like other smart-home technology, a large LCD screen guides the installation, and once the system is a go the SecureLinc blasts a siren whenever it detects an alarm signal from one of the wireless sensors. It also automatically dials homeowners to alert them to the danger.

In the same price range, CF urbanites will soon be able to protect their family jewels with the SENTRI (Smart Sensor Enabled Neural Threat Recognition and Identification) surveillance system. The cell phone-sized consumer version, expected in 2006 and costing about $300, will be a spinoff of its high pedigree big bro that has reportedly helped Chicago police reduce its murder rate in 2004 to 447, the lowest since 1965. The portable alarm detects programmed sounds like gunshots, breaking glass, and other signs of danger and immediately tips off police with a 911 call. Used with a digicam, the home system can catch criminals red-handed. Welcome to the era of the high tech vigilante.

Privacy Please!
Its been clocked that office workers get interrupted more than 50 times a day. Enter CubeSmart. For $30, mere chump change, workers can be the king or queen of their cube with the CubeDoor privacy shield. Think newfangled retractable screen door emblazoned with "BUSY." When you're craving head-down focus, this fourth wall tactfully seals out butt-ins. Of course, there's always the problem of people stopping by to ask, "Hey, where'd you get the cool door?"

Need to talk top secrets without your nosey worker bee neighbors listening in? The geek wizards from Sonare Technologies and Applied Minds have introduced Babble, a "sound-management" system that covers conversations. The discreet desktop device uses speakers and sound processors to jumble dialogue and stifle voices, turning clips of chat into a fuzzy murmur. The first Babble model is designed exclusively to blank-out personal phone talk, but expect Babble solutions for managing bigger office space buzzes.

Want to hack-off the hackers? Protection of precious wireless network data is only a paintbrush away. DefendAir Radio Shield is the brainchild of Silicon Valley company Force Field Wireless, specializing in "wireless efficiency solutions." DefendAir Radio Shield is an acrylic latex paint that blocks radio frequencies between 100 MHz and 5GHz, keeping most WiFi and Bluetooth signals where they belong. The paint prevents outside radio signals from interfering with wireless networks, and it also claims to stop "bleeding," so office signals stay in and sensitive data stays safe. Something tells me the more coats, the stronger the block. At $68 per 1-gallon can, the protection is an affordable weapon in the war against Internet piracy. But the color palette? Well, may I suggest they team up with Ms. Martha Stewart, an unofficial Design General in the Control Freak Revolution.

On the Sporting Front
Germs, germs, germs! Virulent locker room bacteria are a clear and present danger. Now control freak weekend warriors and pro athletes alike can breathe a little easier knowing the CleenFreek line of sporting goods is aiming to save the germy day. Triclosan, an FDA-approved antimicrobial agent. is built into towels, exercise mats, headbands, and wristbands to thwart bacteria, fungus, and mold. Developed by an exercise instructor after his son contracted a staph infection, CleenFreek products are a form of personal anti-germ warfare. Compliments to this take-charge control Freak capitalist.

These innovative antidotes for the OOC — out of control — mania are only the beginning of the Control Freak Revolution. Look around and you'll see momentum building with innovations empowering all ages. We are all eagerly reaching for tools to help us get a grip. This is a big opportunity for business to aid and abet this peaceful yet resolute revolution.

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