The Hidden Oddities of CES

At the quieter, outer edge of the Philips booth, I found products that were more interesting than what everyone was ogling near the center aisle. MiraVision is a wall-hanging mirror and LCD in one.

With the display off, the device looks like a mirror. When you turn the display on, the mirror disappears and you see television or your computer display (the unit can accept component, HD, and XVGA signals). You can even get different frames.

MiraVision runs from $2,400 to $4,000, depending on size. Interesting, but I cannot imagine why anyone would want this.

A Really Close-Up View

Near the side doors, I discovered what looked like a display of Oral-B electric toothbrushes. They were, in fact, JJC MagniCam handheld digital microscopes.

The $199.95 devices (set to ship April 1 — a date I would rethink) were originally developed for medical use — they even come with oto- and rhinoscopic attachments — but the developers decided to offer the microscopes to consumers because they can magnify virtually anything. The USB device delivers up to 150X magnification at 640-by-480 to your computer.

A version that will produce 1-megapixel images should arrive later this year. The MagniCam sits in a cradle when not in use.

Oddly, the developers had never heard of the Scalar ProScope. It's also a USB device, but unlike the MagniCam, it can capture microscopic movies. Still, JJC's design is far more user friendly and familiar (if you own an Oral-B electric toothbrush, at least).

Goofy Goggles

The Ingineo Eyetop Centra (www.eyetop.net) was at the farthest corner of the show floor (a PR woman had to guide me there by cell phone). This $399 headset looks like a pair of sunglasses, but has a miniature display built in. The goggles connect to a portable control unit that can plug into any device with RCA video-out ports.

It runs on 4 AA batteries that also power stereo earpieces, which connect to the glasses. The headset adjusts to accommodate glasses and noses of different shapes, and the view screen also adjusts. Actual resolution is just 320 by 240, but the image appears to the viewer as something akin to that of a 15-inch display.

The claimed advantage is that you can view an image without it completely obscuring your vision. I almost immediately got vertigo — not to mention that I looked and felt ridiculous wearing the things, as I think most people will. This is not a product likely to succeed with consumers.

Solar Flex

An expedition to other far reaches of the show floor proved more fruitful. Nestled in a small booth in the South Hall, I found ICPSolar Technologies (www.icpsolar.com). As its name implies, this company produces solar panels for a variety of products.

Company Vice President of Marketing, Nasir Ameeriar (a Ph.D — talk about hiring the cream of the crop) explained that the company uses a thin-film technology to produce these ultralight, superthin, flexible solar panels.

The panels are typically encased in one of a number of vinyls to make them waterproof and can be sewn into fabric and placed in clothing or standalone devices like the Coleman Exponent FLEX 5 Solar Panel, a portable, foldable, lightweight charging panel that stores its energy in a battery pack. ICPSolar will also sell a variety of connectors to let you power virtually any kind of DC device.

Ameeriar modeled the company's SOLARSCOTTeVest jacket that has a solar array on its back.

A Literally Stunning Demo

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