Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gizmos Galore Electronics Take Center Stage in Vegas

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gizmos Galore Electronics Take Center Stage in Vegas

Article excerpt

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 beside 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 carried 12 years ago, but thousands of innovations will entertain you or simply embellish life's mundane chores.

Sharp is flaunting 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.

Behind the scenes, in the hotel suites where manufacturers meet distributors, large companies like Sony and Toshiba are competing to win favor for a technical standard for a CD-sized disc that can hold a full-length movie.

Sony and Philips, which jointly created the audio CD, last month announced their technical plans for the comparable video disc. Toshiba, working with Time Warner and others, has a different plan. Consumers likely won't be able to see the results of the industry tussle for several years.

Toward the quieter edges of the show are some of the more unusual and useful creations. Tucked in a corner where telephone products are displayed, Roger Amundson lets 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.

"This thing always keeps it wrapped up."

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. It's impossible to drive."

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

U.S. Technology Source showed a prototype of the device a year ago but only recently shipped it to stores. …

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