Arrow-right Camera


Slick Gizmos Virtually Useful Electronics Companies Show Off New Gadgets To Give Life More Pizazz

Sat., Jan. 7, 1995, midnight

Worried about car thieves? Foil them with a silent alarm that fills the interior with blinding white clouds of smoke.

Want to see what you’d look like standing next to Bogart and Bergman at the Casablanca airport? Some new computer software can do it.

Tired of the darn tangled phone cord? There’s a new kind that neatly coils itself.

Manufacturers have brought 41,000 gizmos to the Winter Consumer Electronics Show, which began Friday. It’s tough to find one with the breakthrough potential that the compact disc player had 12 years ago, but thousands of innovations will entertain you or simply embellish life’s mundane chores.

Sharp is touting a microwave oven with a memory that suggests cooking times. Motorola is pitching a pager shaped like a pen. Seiko, Timex and Swatch are selling watches that can hold paging messages and other data.

In the corner of the Las Vegas Convention Center where telephone products were displayed, Roger Amundson let people test the $10 CordMinder, which keeps the phone cord wound up like a measuring tape.

“Especially on the desk, your cord is always laying there, if you’ve got a 6-foot or a 12-foot cord, it’s annoying,” said Amundson, whose company Tel Products of Hector, Minn., distributes the cord.

U.S. Technology Source Corp. of Irvine, Calif., is displaying its Smoke Defense Machine, which fills a car with steam-like smoke if it is tampered with or broken into.

“We came up with a system that places a barrier between the thief and the car,” said Ammar Burayez, the company’s chief engineer. “It visually obstructs someone from seeing anything in the vehicle.”

The smoke is harmless, odorless and leaves no residue. It dissipates once the owner disengages the system.

U.S. Technology Source only recently shipped it to stores. So, Burayez said, the company has gotten no reports of it preventing a theft.

A new company called Play Inc. has created a small $200 device, called Snappy, that attaches to a personal computer to grab and manipulate images from TVs and other video sources.

“You can put yourself into the scene just like they did in ‘Forrest Gump,”’ said Mark Randall, vice president of marketing for Play, based in Rancho Cordova, Calif.

Snappy reaches stores this month.

Bestwood Electronics Inc. of North Vancouver, British Columbia, has created a $120 device that allows people to command lights and other household appliances from the telephone keypad. The product was named one of the show’s top innovations.


Click here to comment on this story »