Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 21:13 GMT 22:13 UK
Business: The Economy
Gadgets galore at telecom show
The telecom 99 show is the place to demonstrate gadgets
by the BBC's Richard Quest at Telecom 99 in Geneva
A mobile phone as small as a credit card ? No Problem.
Or perhaps you really need software that talks and translates into several languages at once. It's already here.
The possible and the probable
Every stand has a combination of technology that is already in use and the so called 'concept' machines that are just around the corner or still lurking in somebody's mind.
Sanyo offers a cellular telephone that is truly wafer thin. It is small enough to fit in your credit card holder, let alone your breast pocket.
Smaller and smaller
Then there is Siemens' Unifier. It looks like a small Psion or calculator. It is, instead, a powerful notebook, diary address book and offers Internet access with a keyboard.
The company extols the fact that you don't have to point and push with a pen. Instead you just use the normal keyboard.
It's not that easy, since the thing is only seven inches across and someone with large fingers and thumbs, like mine, will end up with wilrds tjat dnt muke snsde - if you get the idea.
But how about a computer programme that takes your video picture and turns it into a jigsaw?
It's a game from NEC where you break up the real time moving picture into Jigsaw shapes and then race another player to put your face back together again. Funky.
Perhaps my favourite two gadgets (there have to be two) came from the low tech sector and those that simply try harder.
Firstly, a cheap ($140) way to record phone calls by simply placing the phone wire through an electronic coupler that looks like a magnet and starting to speak.
No complicated disconnecting the phone. Setting it up took seconds and all calls were recorded (although be careful of the legality of such a machine: wherever you might live, check the laws first).
And finally, there is the NEC language translator. Speak into the microphone and the computer offers you translation into Japanese, French and English.
But again be careful. It doesn't always get it right.
For instance "What a marvellous gadget" in Japanese came up with an English offering about "the Maid".
Apparently there is no such word as gadget in Japan.
And asking the computer "how does this work?" produced a translation of something even the Maid would disapprove.
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