Bumper stickers were all the rage in the 1980s, with signs like "Baby on Board" reminding drivers to avoid tailgating. The trend is back, in updated form, with Roadmaster USA's Scrolling Digital License Plate Frame, which displays scrolling messages on a car's license plate or back window.
Those signs can be an eyesore, but Tzero Technologies is making some relatively eye-pleasing activities possible: The company's chip set supports wireless transfers of high-definition images between devices. Also enhancing the entertainment world is Shure's new (albeit expensive) line of earphones, which promise improved sound and bass.
Roadmaster's Car Message
With the ability to display warnings such as "Your lights aren't working," Roadmaster's LED message bar may help drivers avoid police busts. The Scrolling Digital License Plate Frame is an LED bar that can display any of 99 preset messages that come with the product (e.g. "Help me," "Slow down," or "Baby on board") or any user-created message (such as a for-sale price for the vehicle) of not more than 120 characters and spaces.
Users can display a single message in nonscrolling mode, and can adjust the LED's speed and brightness via a wireless remote. The company recommends, however, that customers check state and local regulations before using the scrolling system while the car is in motion. A similar product is available for mounting on a car's rear dash. Both can be bought online at Roadmaster's Web site, at retailers, and at car dealerships.
Shure's SE Series Headphones
Shure's SE line of sound-isolating earphones upgrades the company's famous E series brand with new features, fresh looks, and more-advanced technology.
The $150 SE210 and the $250 SE310 deliver deep audio through built-in "hi-definition microspeaker" technology. The SE310 also has Tuned BassPort bass-enhancing technology. The advanced $350 SE420 (with a tweeter and a woofer) and the $450 SE530 (with a tweeter and dual woofers) come with dedicated drivers for lower and higher sound frequencies to help define and deliver low-range, midrange and high-end sound better.
The company has put years of research and testing into these earphones, according to Matt Engstrom, Shure's personal audio product manager. Though the SE210 and SE310 headsets resemble the earphones used in the E series, their slightly smaller size contributes to improved audio quality.
With the earphones, Shure bundles a multiple-fit kit that includes seven types of sleeves. Optional accessories include longer cables and the Push-to-Hear module, which lets users hear external sound without removing the earphones. The SE210 is already available on Shure's Web site; the other models are listed there and will ship soon, the company says.
Tzero's Wireless HD Delivery
Looking for ways to reduce cable clutter in the vicinity of your home entertainment center? Tzero Technologies has developed a chip set that uses ultrawideband (UWB) technology to support wireless transfers of high-definition video between devices within a 10- to 20-meter range.
In a demonstration, an HDTV equipped with a Tzero-based device seamlessly received HD images and sound from a DVD player equipped with a Tzero transmitter. UWB provides 10 times the bandwidth and 20 times the throughput of standard 802.11a/g wireless networks, making it a better option for transferring high-bandwidth HD video between devices that might otherwise require a cable connection, Tzero chief technology officer Rajeev Krishnamoorthy says.
Asustek Computer, Audiovox, and Gefen are using the chip set to develop products that will connect to an HDTV or to other high-definition devices with HDMI inputs, notes Matt Keowen, Tzero's senior director of corporate marketing. Display vendors also have the option of embedding the chip sets in monitors or wireless TVs.
Prices for products incorporating Tzero's UWB chip set will be set by the vendor, but Keowen expects the boxes to sell for between $299 and $399. Tat might might make these devices an appealing proposition for people who don't want unsightly cables running between their video sources and a wall-mounted flat-screen display, for example. Tzero officials expect products to hit the market in the third quarter of this year.
The Chilling Tinchilla
With its ability to chill a canned beverage in 60 seconds, the Tinchilla sounds like a useful gadget. Put a can of soda or beer into the device (an oblong open box with a cylinder at one end) and switch it on; at once the can will begin to spin in a surrounding slurry of ice cubes and cold water. Sixty seconds later, you'll have a chilled drink that's shaken not stirred and yet doesn't spray or froth when opened, according to the Web site maintained by British marketer CyberCandy. That cooling turnaround is up to 240 times faster than the normal time a refrigerator takes to accomplish the job, the site asserts--although, truth to tell, I can't recall ever having encountered a refrigerator that took 4 hours to chill a 12-ounce can of liquid refreshment.
The Tinchilla works through thermal conditioning: The spinning motion causes all contents of the can to come into direct contact with a chilled can surface, accelerating cooling. The $10 gizmo operates on two AA batteries and requires ice cubes. CyberCandy will ship it to U.S. addresses.
Agam Shah is an editor with the IDG News Service, based in San Francisco. Questions or comments? Write to Agam Shah.