Fishing For News At FOSE
FOSE--the name of the annual government-tech trade show in town--rhymes with "saucy" but is anything but. This convention is geared towards military, homeland-security and other no-fun uses; the brightly lit Best Buy booth cranking out the upbeat sounds of OK Go and Outkast seemed horribly out of place.
To anybody interested in consumer technology, FOSE amounts to pretty thin gruel. But you can still find some interesting surprises here and there, so I spent the morning wandering around the floor of the Washington Convention Center. Read on for details about some of the more noteworthy things I checked out...
* If you absolutely, positively need to destroy a hard drive: Garner Products showed off a hip-high beige machine that electromagnetically zaps a hard drive twice to wipe its contents, spears it with four steel spikes, then zaps it again. Now that might be a little excessive if you only need to clean off your old data... but if that drive had contained some particularly buggy software, I can see the cathartic value in punishing it for its misdeeds.
* Fujitsu's Lifebook P1610 may be the smallest Tablet PC I've seen yet--just 2.2 pounds "heavy," and not much bigger than a paperback book. Something like this might be a much more practical everywhere-computing solution than the Ultra-Mobile PC concept Microsoft launched last year.
* A small company named Unotron showed off a keyboard built to be washed in the sink--a much simpler procedure than what I've had to do to clean off keyboards. The keys felt a little stiffer than a regular keyboard's, but seemed entirely usable. The booth rep said its hardware started at $46--which, I'm sure, means it's way too expensive for any budget-minded mass-market PC vendor to include.
* A Korean firm called C-motech had a thumb-sized USB device that incorporated an EVDO wireless-data receiver, a GPS receiver and a small store of flash memory, off of which you could run your wireless carrier's connection software (i.e., no need to waste time installing it on a new laptop) and store your own documents. Sprint is testing it now.
* Physical Optics Corp. showed off a nifty little camera with 360-degree vision. Its output spanned a window stretching across a computer's monitor. When a person stood at the right spot on the floor, one half of his head appeared at the right edge of this window and the other half on the left. (I admit that there's no obvious consumer use for this, but it was still kinda neat to watch.)
* TonerHead demonstrated a $35,000 device that refills used inkjet cartridges in a few minutes, at a cost of $2.49 in materials per cartridge. There are already refill kits you can use at home, but with this system--available at some Walgreens drugstores--somebody else gets to deal with the mess.
Any of that sound like something you might want to use yourself?
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