The economy may be faltering, but high-tech entrepreneurs bet there's a market for such electronic marvels as English-Russian typewriters and watches that tell sunbathers when to take cover.
Those and hundreds of other devices were laid out amid 1,500 exhibits at the four-day Consumer Electronics Show, which opened Thursday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.The recession and threat of war in the Persian Gulf present sellers of such products a "challenging but not unprecedented set of circumstances," Richard A. Kraft, president of Matsushita Electric Corp. of America, said during the show's keynote address.
But George Kunz of Vistatech Ltd. said the time is right for the Rover 256, a typewriter that switches from English to Russian Cyrillic letters with the push of a button and sells for about $800.
"Today, with connections with Eastern Bloc countries, I think there will be a lot of use," he said.
Kraft said many Americans have become thriftier during the recession.
"These consumers are postponing spending until the economic outlook begins to look rosier," he said. "When this pent-up demand is uncorked, watch out."
Watching out are marketers of such devices as Sunwatch, which can be programmed with a wearer's skin type and sun-screen protection factor.