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Small wonders, big on ideas

Small wonders, big on ideas
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First Published: Wed, Jan 16 2008. 12 01 AM IST

Updated: Wed, Jan 16 2008. 12 01 AM IST
A robotic dog or vacuum cleaner may be cute, but a big robot bug seems just a little yucky. Microrobot USA’s HexAvoider is a six-legged translucent creature that autonomously walks, wiggles and jumps around like the real thing, sensing and dodging anything in its way—not unlike a nasty kitchen cockroach. Microrobot plans to start selling HexAvoider as an educational toy (about $100), but also says it has some practical purposes. Strap a small video camera on its antennaed head, for example, and it becomes a creepy little home security system.
This could fit into the goofy gadgets category—until you see it work. Lawrenceville, Georgia-based Kyodo America’s LawnBotts look like baby bumper cars, but they’re actually rugged robotic lawnmowers. LawnBotts use on-board sensors and a special perimeter wire around your lawn to keep your grass mowed to a perfect height. Kyodo’s latest model even has Bluetooth capability, so you can programme it with a cellphone. Kyodo company spokesman John Tarvin says he has heard of customers dressing up their LawnBotts with racing stripes and flames or to look like pets or bugs. They cost $2,750-$3,300 today, but a new model coming soon will sell for about $2,000.
Watching a movie on your tiny iPod screen isn’t exactly the best viewing experience. MyVu’s eyeware tries to make it better. Plug the euro-style glasses into your iPod, portable DVD player or other device, and the picture pops up on the lenses right in front of your eyes.
The glasses also come with noise-cancelling earphones that dangle from the frame. MyVus aren’t cheap: They start at about $200, and the company’s newest model, coming later this year, will cost about $300.
You may have heard of the immensely popular video game ‘Guitar Hero’. Now comes what could very well be the goofiest gadget of CES 2008.
Strap the Guitar Hero Air Guitar Rocker around your waist, strum a plastic pick in front of your new sensor-equipped belt buckle and suddenly you’re rockin’ out with an electronic air guitar. You’re also looking pretty wacky.
The set-up comes with a little amplifier-speaker device that also stores 10 guitar riffs so you can play along. Songs included are from bands such as—who else?—Van Halen, Boston and Deep Purple.
Perhaps the coolest thing about Air Guitar Rocker is the price: $30.
Now you don’t have to worry about your Bluetooth headphone running out of juice in the middle of that oh-so-important conversation—unless maybe if it’s raining outside.
Finnish company Iqua introduced what it says is the first-ever solar-powered Bluetooth headset at CES. With a Dentyne-sized solar panel strip, the Iqua Sun ($100) can get its own energy from the sun or from indoor lighting. Stuck in the traffic? You can also use a USB charger.
Okay, so it's not exactly hi-tech. But the Discgear Selector created by Austin, Texas-based CD3 Inc. sure is handy. With Selector ($20-80), you can safely store 100 of your CDs or DVDs and get rid of those clunky cases. Move a little lever on the front of the device, and you can browse your entire library. Find a particular disc quickly by moving the lever to the number from a corresponding list that slides out from the base of the box, sort of like an old-fashioned address book. Create or update your customized library list on Discgear’s website.
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First Published: Wed, Jan 16 2008. 12 01 AM IST