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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 February 2006, 02:32 GMT
The future of today's technology
BBC Click's Ian Hardy
By Ian Hardy
Click's North America technology correspondent

Ian Hardy checks out the gadgets that will be making an appearance in shops in the near future.

Commercial robots are becoming increasingly sophisticated
Imagine it. A fold-out futon with built in iPod dock and surround-sound speakers.

It could catch on, but who am I to judge? I have never had a single great idea.


Luckily, a few other people have.

For $1200 (680) Robonova-1 will come and live with you, cartwheeling the day away, along with some push-ups and back flips. This is the latest, greatest in robotics.

HiTec Robotics' Marketing Director Glen Merritt says: "The technology that the Robonova-1 incorporates uses digital servos with feedback.

"This is particularly critical because it enables the programming to be made much easier than it would have been a year ago."

Table-top gaming

New technology meets old
Half coffee table, half video game, the Entertaible plays like a good old fashioned board game, but is actually a 30 inch LCD screen with some cutting edge touch screen technology that is still in the research phase.

It is clever enough to understand several simultaneous activities on its surface, from moving pieces to finger pressure.

Senior scientist at Phillips, Gerard Hollemans says: "It's a very dynamic board, which is different from traditional board games, but the way the user plays is no different.

"So it plays the way you're used to, but it adds a little fun and excitement."


Sony's eReader
Will ePaper replace newspapers in the future?
So called ePaper products have been in the labs for years, but Sony's eReader is ready to launch.

It is 9 ounces (255g), the size of a paperback and its flicker-free screen actually looks like a printed page. It has ink particles suspended in liquid moved around by electric charges; a sort of Etch-a-Sketch on steroids.

Senior Vice-President at Sony Electronics, Ron Hawkins says: "When you form this image each time you're not using any power to refresh the image, even when it's not changing. So you have very low power consumption.

And you can actually read on our product about 7,500 pages on a single battery charge."

Office privacy

Will this device keep office conversations private?
At one time or another most of us have been victims of office gossip, but now there is technology that claims to stop it dead.

It comes in the form of speakers that are placed around your cubicle and broadcast not just your conversation but also additional samples of your voice.

It is a privacy measure. Juicy titbits instantly become babble.

Director of Corporate Communications at Herman Miller Inc Mark Schurman says: "It's not possible for someone to learn how to listen through babble because the sound that's being generated by the device is randomised.

"So it is taking that unique set of phonetic sounds, scrambling them in a constantly random manner, and it's impossible to decipher it."

'Freespace controller'

Loop freespace controller
Device controllers are moving away from their traditional shape
Finally, how do you fancy controlling your TV with a strawberry doughnut?

Well, you can using Loop, one of the newest freespace controllers, designed to complement a point and click menu.

President of Hillcrest Labs Dan Simpkins says: "Everything in this interface is about a three-dimensional experience. The left button allows you to zoom into the experience, the right button allows you to come back.

"The scroll wheel was very important because in certain cases when you have a list of information the wheel can be used to more rapidly navigate lists."

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