Raquel and I swung by the innovation and design awards area at the show yesterday and found some pretty cool stuff. For those of you who don’t know, this is a special area over at the Sands Expo where they showcase which devices displayed at the show were outstanding in their specific fields (incidentally, it’s also the area where they showcase the amazing hi-tech Japanese toilet seats, which look rather like the captain’s chair for the Starship Enterprise). So, without further ado, here’s the best of the best, the coolest of the cool and the most honored out of all the products showcased at the Sands:
Vuzix VR920-8 VR Glasses for Xbox 360
This is a product I truly cannot wait to see in action. Vuzix is a company that we talked about before (in its previous incarnation as Icuiti), but the advancement in their products over the previous year is pretty amazing. While virtual reality visors are nothing new (anyone else remember The Lawnmower Man? That’s the movie that made me interested in virtual worlds when I was a kid), Vuzix’s VR920-8 glasses seem pretty cool. They’re built to work with the Xbox 360, and include motion tracking, so when you turn your head, the view follows. I didn’t have the chance to test them, but, being an avid Halo 3 player, this is something I’d totally want.
I have no rhythm. It makes it hard to go out to clubs because, when dancing, I basically look like a spastic cat that just got dunked in a tank of water. This flaw has also made me avoid things like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero like the plague. This item might make me change my mind, though. Essentially, it allows you to play air guitar instead of having to hold the normal faux guitar device you usually use to play the game. So, really, it’s a faux faux guitar. Strange.
Texas Instruments DualView Television
Another gaming device, this is a single television screen that allows two players to play the same game on one television. Yes, this function already exists for some games that use split-screen modes, but this television is different. Using stereoscopic glasses, two users will actually be able to see different images on the same television screen. Originally, these types of devices were used to create 3D gaming experiences (Somewhat famously, a well-known console developer came out with one in the 1990’s that made people virtually seasick), using two slightly different images to create the illusion of depth. This device reapplies the same technology, but uses it to allow two players to see separate images. Very cool.
WEP500 – Samsung Noise Cancellation Bluetooth Headpiece, Phoenix PXUA-0001 Conferencing Headset and Iqua-Sun solar powered Bluetooth headset
It’s no secret that I hate Bluetooth headsets almost as much as I hate people who talk on their phones in the bathroom. You never really know if they’re talking to you or not, so when I’m walking down the street and someone randomly says, "I can’t wait to see you tonight," it makes me a little uncomfortable. Anyway, please take into account my prejudice against headsets when I introduce these three products that I actually like.
First up, we have Samsung’s WEP500, a Bluetooth headset that features an innovative noise cancellation in a petite and very sleek shell. The device is about the size of a quarter and automatically adjusts its volume based on the level of noise around you. It also removes echoes.
Second, we have the Phoenix PXUA-0001, a device that can join together up to five Bluetooth headsets. Callpod, the device’s manufacturer, suggests a couple of uses, including restaurant management and retail management, but the best suggestion I’ve seen is to use them for melding multiple people into a conference call. One device would allow five people inside a 300,000 sq ft area to dial into a number without forcing them to have to sit around a conference phone.
Last, we have the Iqua-SUN headset. While it’s pretty much just a standard Bluetooth device, the neat this about this baby is that it’s solar powered. Instead of having to worry about charging the thing or changing the batteries, you can just walk outside and get it all powered up. Not only is it convenient, it’s also a handy excuse for why you need to get out of the office for a bit.
The Moneual 1*magine is a home media PC designed to power a living room. It comes with 750 gb of SATA storage, WiFi and gigabit Ethernet connections, and the ability to give it voice commands either through the built-in microphone or through a Bluetooth headset. It also features a 7-inch touchscreen for up-close control.
The Lightglove is a neat little interface device that can be used to control a variety of different types of devices. Worn on the underside of the wrist, the Lightglove uses infrared light and gyroscopic sensors to scan a user’s palm and measure wrist, hand and finger movements. Sounds complicated, right? Well, the gist of it is that it can control Computers, gaming consoles, phones, PDAs… just about anything, by "air typing" as they put it.
This nifty little device, produced by Belkin, allows you to mix and record music directly onto your iPod. It has ports for instruments and microphones and more knobs to twist to adjust audio than I can count. It also can act as a conduit between PCs and iPods.
As a youth, my grandfather used to take me flying in his open-air Piper Cub and even let me fly it for a bit (although no landings and take-offs). While I’ll probably never be able to do that again, the Dreamflyer Flight Chair is about as close as I’m going to get. It’s a 3′ by 6′ chair and frame that not only allows you to control flight simulator programs, but also physically moves as your virtual plane does. I don’t think it can do loopdeloops, though.
Intellitrap IC-860 – Bug Dehydrator
And, last, but not least, here is my favorite device, the Intellitrap IC-860 bug catcher, which uses a combination of UV light, smells and other methods of persuasion to lure bugs into its clutches. Now, everyone is saying, "Jeff, what’s so high tech about a bug catcher?" Well, this thing promises that "[pesky critters] can be removed later after dehydration." I actually stood, brow furrowed, for a good minute staring at this thing wondering what anyone would want dehydrated bugs for. If you have a good idea, drop me a comment or send me an email at [email protected]