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Tag Archives: CES08

[CES 2008] United Pepper Eco-Friendly USB Accessories

United Pepper

By Evan Ackerman

When I think about USB hubs and webcams, “eco-friendly” isn’t the first thing that jumps to mind. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to check if my computer accessories are fair trade and biodegradable. I am clearly a lousy human being, and I should invest in one of these adorable peripherals from United Pepper. The Lili webcam (1.3mpx, 30fps, integrated mic) and the Oscar USB hub (4x USB 2.0) are both made from recycled or renewable materials, including the packaging. In fact, there is NO plastic anywhere in them, just fabric and recycled paper. The webcams are stabilized by filling the legs with sand, which (believe it or not) you can find just lying around on the ground in certain places. The webcam is about $60, and the USB hub is about $40, but that’s a small price to pay for a stylish load off your eco-conscience.

[ United Pepper ]

[CES 2008] Synaptics Multitouch Gesture Touchpads


By Evan Ackerman

I almost always use an external mouse with my laptop, but having that touchpad there is damn convenient due to its close proximity to the keyboard, especially for things like scrolling. Synaptics (odds are fairly good that you have a Synaptics touchpad if you have a laptop) demoed a few new fast and intuitive touchpad technologies at CES which should make portable productivity that much more convenient:

ChiralMotion: Using your fingers in a twisting motion, scroll clockwise or counterclockwise to quickly navigate through long lists of files (works kinda like a virtual scroll wheel, with either one or two fingers).

Momentum: Emulates a trackball; just flick the touchpad with one finger and the cursor will exhibit “intertia-like” behavior as if a trackball was still spinning, even after your finger is off the touchpad.

Pinch (my favorite): Use two fingers and make a pinch gesture anywhere on the touchpad to zoom in; reverse the gesture to zoom out.

According to the Synaptics rep, this is all firmware tech, not hardware, which means that we should see a fairly rapid introduction into new laptops.

[ Synaptics ]

[CES 2008] USB Massage Mouse

Massage Mouse

By Evan Ackerman

This is what we need less of: electronics that look like animals. Why? Because they’re cute and non-threatening until suddenly, they attack. This massage mouse (which is, in fact, a USB optical computer mouse) uses two conductive pads placed on your skin to transmit electrical current through your body, causing your muscles to (for lack of a better word) spasm. The Massage Mouse is advertised to relieve minor muscle aches and pains, but honestly, I tried this thing out on my hand and I just wanted it off. Think: mild electrocution.

Between $80 and $180 depending on how many other things you want your Massage Mouse to be able to do. Available now.

[ Massage Mouse ]

[CES 2008] I-mu I-Jerry


By Evan Ackerman

This is what we need more of: electronics that look like animals. Why? Because they’re cute and non-threatening. The I-Jerry, for example, is “lovely, cute, smart, and brave,” according to his press release. He’s got 1 gig of onboard memory for MP3s and ear controls, but instead of a speaker, his butt causes whatever surface he is placed on to vibrate, transforming it into a speaker. I-mu also has a few other audio systems that work on the same principle, including a piggy, an i-bird, and something that looks vaguely NSFW. I-Jerry will be available for about $99 sometime this year.

[ I-mu ]

[CES 2008] Amethyst Piggy iPod Dock


By Evan Ackerman

iPod docks were a dime a dozen at CES, but this cute little guy was one of the more distinctive ones, letting your iPod (or iPhone) literally ride the pig. Touching his ears changes volume and tracks, or he comes with a remote. Otherwise he doesn’t seem to be anything special, besides having “Nature Sound Field Expansion Technology” (whatever that is). The really sketchy part about him, though, is that his tagline is “touching makes me higher.” Um, yeah, I’m not even gonna touch you like that, thanks.

[ Amethyst ]

[CES 2008] Powercast Wireless Power

By Evan Ackerman

Power cords are the bane of my existence. Every year, it seems like we’re getting closer to a solution to perpetually dead and dying cellphones and laptops, and this year is no exception, with Powercast showing off their remote and contactless RF power systems:

Powercast uses radio frequencies to transmit power through solid surfaces or the open air to devices equipped with teeny little receivers. At close range, the efficiency is around 90% (more efficient than an AC/DC adapter), and at longer range, 70% efficiency is still achievable.

Powercast Reciever

Although Powercast can transmit power over long distances in either focused or unfocused directions, they said that it’s really not practical to do so, and (unfortunately) they’re correct (some of their PR materials to the contrary). For example, if you want Powercast to cover a room, it certainly can… But every part of that room that DOESN’T have a receiver in it is just going to be wasting energy. Even without such futuristic applications, Powercast has a lot to offer: since it can charge or power devices without any physical interface, electronics could be hermetically sealed against dust and water.

As far as cost and availability… The technology is ready to go, but Powercast isn’t going to be releasing any consumer products directly, and they have to find manufacturers willing to embrace their system. The price premium is going to be affordable to consumers, since the technology itself is not intrinsically that expensive. What I would love (love) to see, though, would be a combined Powercast antenna and battery in a AA form factor. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

[ Powercast ]

[CES 2008] ZCam Gesture Control Gaming

By Evan Ackerman

Besides illustrating why nerds mostly game while sedentary, this vid shows the ZCam, by Israeli company 3DV Systems, in action. ZCam works by sensing depth, which is fairly innovative when it comes to interactive gaming. Instead of looking for motion or color, in the demo application (a boxing game) the camera figures out where you are and what you’re doing by contrasting distances. For example, it knows that if it sees small objects moving around in front of a large object, those are probably your fists in front of your body, and it can project those into a gaming environment like the boxing demo. The infrared rangefinder has a depth resolution of up to 1 centimeter and VGA resolution at 60fps, meaning that it can effectively detect finger movements. The camera unit should be released at the end of the year for under $100, but software developers are going to have to integrate the technology into their products for any of us to get much use out of it.

[ 3DV Systems ]

[CES 2008] Sony 11″ Production OLED TVs


By Evan Ackerman

The thing that makes these little OLED TVs stand out from their larger prototypical OLED counterparts is that you can, in fact, buy one. Like most OLED TVs, some of the numbers are staggering, most notably the 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. The viewing angle of 178 degrees isn’t bad, either… The native resolution, however, is a bit disappointing at only 960×540. The panel is only 3mm thick, which although impressive, is completely moot since it’s permanently attached to a large ugly base with a large ugly stand. The cost? $2500. The target consumer? According to the Sony rep, these TVs are for people who “want to watch TV on their boat.” Thanks, Sony.

[ Sony 11″ OLED TV ]

[CES 2008] Sony Rolly Is Maybe Cool, Maybe Not

By Evan Ackerman

On my tour of the Sony booth (I like how they call these places “booths,” but they’re bigger than my house), I was given a little demo of Sony’s Rolly MP3 player. Rolly is… Well… I’m not sure what it is. It plays music and dances and looks like an egg. It’s not good for much, but I really really like it. Don’t ask me why. The controls are intuitive (neat gyroscopic sensitivity), and its dance moves are automatically synced up with the music it plays quite well. It’s programmable, so that you can choreograph your own sequences, and in Japan (where the Rolly has been on sale since September) there are competitive Rolly dance-offs. Rolly can hold a gig of music, or it can stream music from another source via integrated Bluetooth. Battery life is good for about four hours of song and dance.

Sony Rolly

Rolly should go on sale this spring in Sony Style stores, for an undisclosed price. If you’re guessing that it’s weird enough to be either super cheap or super expensive, you’re right: the price in Japan is, sadly, $350.

[ Sony Style ]