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Who wouldn't want an Internet-connected smart rabbit? Or maybe an iPhone case that doubles as a bottle opener?
Mobile Phone That (Almost) Never Dies: SpareOne is a no-frills mobile phone that, if unused, can hold a charge for up to 15 years, according to its manufacturer XPAL Power. What's its power source? This dual-band GSM handset comes with an Energizer Ultimate Lithium L91 battery, but it also works with off-the-shelf AA (Alkaline, NiMH, or Lithium) power sticks. Talk time is ten hours. The price: A very nice $50. Not bad for an emergency backup phone.
Social Bunny: Karotz, perhaps the world's only Internet-connected "smart rabbit," has proven an international success since its 2005 debut as "Nabaztag." It's now coming to the U.S. Violet's $130 social-media savvy bunny is really a multifunction robot in disguise. It responds to verbal commands, posts Facebook and Twitter updates, plays music, checks weather forecasts, and so on. It's a lot cuter than your smartphone too
The Eyes Have It: Never mind voice recognition. The Tobii Gaze experimental interface for Windows 8 takes a bold leap forward by using a combination of eye movements and touchpad interactions to navigate Microsoft's tile-happy Metro UI. Tobii's eye-tracking technology allows users to point with their peepers; the touchpad is for commands (and there are many) that require a finer touch. Check out the video.
Cuddly Robotic Friend: CES attendees who stopped by the JETRO Zone, the Japan External Trade Organization's showcase of Japanese technology companies, may have spotted Paro, a robotic baby harp seal designed to reduce stress in patients and their caregivers. The furry, therapeutic Paro has five sensors and makes calming sounds when held and stroked. Paro's outrageously high price tag may cause cardiac arrest, however.
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LG 4K HDTV: If 1080p resolution isn't good enough for you, LG has an ultra-HD alternative: an 84-inch TV capable of displaying eight million pixels at 3840 by 2160 resolution, also known as 4K HDTV. You can't buy a 4K TV yet, unfortunately, and even if you could, there's virtually no 4K content to watch. Still, that's one pretty picture.
Internet, My Baby Gained 10 Ounces: New baby? Congratulations! Want me to hold your baby? Um, sure, be happy too. Want to share your offspring's weight with the world? Um, OK. Tech-savvy parents may embrace the Withings Smart Baby Scale (PDF), which lets family, friends, and medical professionals view a baby's weight readings from any Internet-connected device, including a PC, iPad, or iPhone. Naturally, the scale can posts updates to Facebook and Twitter too. I know what you're thinking: BMI meets TMI.
Who Needs Eardrums? AfterShokz is a line of headphones that uses bone conduction technology, not your eardrums, to transmit sound. It routes sound via the cheekbones to the inner ear -- the same methodology by which you hear your own voice. AfterShotz headphones sit in front of the ear rather than inside it. This design protects the eardrum from potential hearing loss, and also allows the listener to hear ambient sound. AfterShotz Sport headphones cost $60.
Closed Clamshell? No Problem: Intel came to CES to show off its Nikiski Ultrabook concept, among other things. What makes Nikiski unique is its transparent touchpad that lets you access basic functions, including email and social sites, when the Windows 7 laptop's lid is shut. The tile-oriented interface is similar to Windows 8 Metro's look and feel, but Nikiski is really a proprietary UI developed by Intel.
Hey, Fridge, What's for Dinner? LG Electronics debuted a series of clever home appliances at CES, including a French-door refrigerator with Smart Manager, a software savant that transforms the humble fridge in a "food management system." You can use a smartphone app or the refrigerator's LCD panel to check the location and expiration dates of the food items stored inside. LG's intelligent appliance even recommends dishes you can cook using ingredients available in the fridge. Checking my fridge: What could this culinary wiz could do with Tabasco sauce, wilted lettuce, and sour milk?
Beer Me, iPhone: Move over, Swiss Army Knife! The Bottle Opener Phone Case may be the next versatile contrivance to take the world by storm. Not only does this $20 multi-use marvel protect your smartphone from dings and drops, it also opens bottles and cans too--handy for old-school containers that shun twist-off caps or pull tabs. The iPhone model includes a free app that counts bottle tops, and plays a song or sound when you open a bottle or can. Good times!
Curiouser and Curiouser: The wonderful thing about the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is its sheer vastness: 35 football fields of tech gadgets are on display. Much of it we've seen before, but some novelties always manage to raise an eyebrow (or two). Here are 15 curious items from this year's bash. All prices mentiuoned are in US dollars.
Start the Spin Cycle from Your Smartphone: Here's another smart appliance that plays well with your phone or tablet. Samsung's Connected Washer uses the Korean tech giant's AllShare control app (on Samsung smartphones) to enable remote washing. You could, for instance, receive a message on your phone when a load is complete. Imagine the possibilities.
Heads-Up Display for Jocks: Sportiiis is a $200 health-monitoring system for athletes. It attaches to a pair of glasses and provides audio and visual feedback for workouts. For instance, Sportiiis' center LED, visible at the bottom of your glasses, slowly blinks green when your heart rate reaches its target zone. If your heart rate rises dangerously high, orange and red LEDs blink to warn you.
Take That, NTSB! Hey, National Transportation Safety Board, you want a ban on mobile phone use while driving? App developer Picitup thinks otherwise. The maker of iOnRoad, an augmented-reality Android driving app that warns drivers when they're too close to nearby cars, came to CES to announce the addition of a two new iOnRoad safety features: Car Locator, a photo-based tool that helps you remember where you left your car; and Lane Departure Warning, which is pretty much self-explanatory. Who knows, maybe the smartphone will become an essential tool for safe driving.
Drone 2.0 Goes HD: The Parrot AR.Drone is a miniature quadrotor helicopter, or quadcopter, that will get some great upgrades in 2012, including an HD (720p) camera that streams live video to your smartphone or tablet. Enhanced sensors will allow AR.Drone 2.0, slated to ship this year, to fly with greater stability. A cool control app for iOS and Android lets you steer the flying machine simply by tilting your tablet or phone.
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