SUGAR PRINTER — A company called 3D Systems showed off the ChefJet, the first restaurant-approved food printer. The device uses water to melt sugar into shapes as complicated as the mind can imagine. The company's booth featured a wedding cake held up by an edible lattice-work tower that would have been nearly impossible to create by other means. The ChefJet can print complex works in chocolate, too. Unfortunately, the samples the company handed out didn't taste very good, but party planners and restaurateurs will likely be excited about the possibilities culinary 3-D printing opens up.
SONY'S HEAD-MOUNTED DISPLAY — Sony's head-mounted display looks like an enormous pair of glasses. When you strap it on, you take on the perspective of a motorcycle driver racing through the English countryside. Looking down shows the pavement speeding by, looking up shows the clouds. When you swivel your head to the right or left, you may feel like waving to the crowds along the road. All this is enabled by a sensor attached to a strap that tracks your head movements and adjusts the wide-angle picture accordingly.
Although there were a few kinks that marred the illusion, the demonstration gave a taste of what's possible when "wearable" displays and computers combine with movement sensors.
HEAT SENSING IPHONE — FLIR Systems Inc., the leading maker of professional imagers that "see" heat, is bringing out its first consumer-level product: a jacket for the iPhone that contains a heat camera. Temperature differences show up in different colors on the screen of the phone. For instance, you can set it to show hotter things in yellow, medium-hot in red and cold in purple. It can discern temperature differences as small as one tenth of a degree. The FLIR One will cost $349, which compares with $995 and up for FLIR's professional thermal imagers. Practical applications for the camera include identifying leaky insulation and moisture. Fun applications include spotting wildlife, high-tech hide-and-seek, and crazy party pictures. ("Everyone was so hot!")
ANKI DRIVE RACING GAME— In this very high-tech update to Scalextric slot racers, your iPhone doubles as a controller for cars that zip around on a track painted with an infrared pattern the cars see with small cameras on their undersides.
Somehow, the cars fly around without rails, unless you do something really crazy. You can shoot imaginary weapons with rapid-fire tapping on your screen, disabling cars in front of you so you can race ahead. For kids, the game is a mind-blower that could inspire them to create their own gadgets, the way Erector Sets once did.
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