18 Attention Grabbers From CES Opening Night

Parrot USA, best known for making Bluetooth hands-free products, this year will launch its Parrot AR.Drone, a "quadricopter" (helicopter with four propellers) that's controllable through Wi-Fi and streams live video back to an iPhone or iPod Touch.

In addition to so called "augmented reality" gaming, this device has all sorts of unintended usage scenarios, almost all of which would probably be illegal, or at the very least, enough to get teenage kids grounded for weeks. It hovers in the air and emits only a faint whirring noise, making it perfect for remote surveillance.

The Parrot AR.Drone is the result of four years of research and development, and it shows: This contraption was easily the most bizarre and fascinating product at the opening night event, as can easily be surmised from the confused expressions on spectators' faces.

Ever been to a baseball game and disagreed with the in-stadium radar gun readings? Or does your neighborhood have an annoying driver who speeds through your neighborhood like a madman/madwoman? Well, now there's Pocket Radar, a palm-size device that lets you determine exactly how fast things are traveling from up to a half mile away.

Priced at $249, Pocket Radar will launch in the spring and tracks speeds as low as 7 miles per hour and as fast as 355 mph. By putting technology that used to cost thousands into the hands of consumers for the first time, the company behind Pocket Radar is embodying the spirit of what CES is all about.

Liquid Image, a Hong Kong-based firm with U.S. offices in Antelope, California, showed off its range of camera- and video camera-equipped scuba masks and goggles. Liquid Image started out in the toy business but has been making a splash at CES in recent years with its unique camera- and video-embedded offerings, which may not be crucial to having a good time but sure seem to enhance just about any type of activity.

At CES 2010, Liquid Image took the wraps off its Summit Series Snow Camera line of skiing gear, which come with a 5 megapixel camera, 720 x 480 resolution video, and 16 MB of built-in memory. Yipee! Now every embarrassing fall on the slopes can be captured and shared later on with others, so that they, too, may ridicule you.

Powermat USA made a splash at CES last year with an easy-to-use product that charges mobile devices when they're placed on top of it. While the technology was interesting, it wasn't quite as easy to use as people hoped because it didn't work with all phones and required add-on devices.

Powermat has since honed its approach, and at CES 2010 is showing off its new PowerPack battery, which replaces conventional cell phone batteries to allow them to charge when used with the Powermat. That might sound a bit convoluted, but Powermat's booth was mobbed for the entire three-hour CES opening night event, so there's obviously strong industry interest in this technology.

At CES 2010, U.K.-based Pure is launching its line of attractive Web-connected digital radios, which include integration with Facebook and Twitter as well as Pure's own content portal. Pure's Sensia (pictured) features a touch screen interface and elicited many gasps of covetous desire from passersby. At $349, the Sensia's not cheap, but its design makes it a fit in just about any home entertainment environment.

Sigh. Remember when clock radios were primitive devices that people only interacted with when waking up, or when throwing them across the room? Those days are clearly over.

Truecall, another U.K.-based firm, was on hand to trumpet the virtues of its eponymous flagship device which helps folks avoid the scourge of telemarketing and other unwanted phone calls.

The ingenious device check's the caller's number when a call comes in and lets the phone ring normally if the person is recognized. But if the caller is unknown, Truecall springs into action, answering the phone and asking the caller to identify themselves. This is usually the part where telemarketers hang up.

They say the most beautiful things in life are often the simplest, and Truecall seems to fit this description. But how great would the Truecall product be if augmented by a service -- perhaps delivering by VARs -- that would track down telemarketers in their lairs and subject them to some of their own medicine?

Ever forgot where you put your mobile phone and lapsed into a panic? Yeah, thought so. That's what makes ZOMM such a potentially great product. The company behind ZOMM, which also happens to be called ZOMM (more on that later) calls the device its launching at CES 2010, "a Bluetooth wireless leash for mobile phones."

ZOMM is designed to hang on a keychain and sounds an alarm whenever you walk too far away from your mobile device. But that's not all: ZOMM also vibrates and lights up when a call is coming in, and users can answer calls through ZOMM's speakerphone from a device sitting on the other side of the room. ZOMM also has a personal safety feature that emits a loud alarm at the press of a button.

ZOMM is the brainchild of Laurie Penix, a mother of three who apparently became fed up with hearing people talk about the horror of losing their phones, and decided to do something about it. ZOMM stands for Zachry, Olivia and Madison's Mom. It's nice back story, but they're probably going to have to come up with a catchier name if this product goes mass market.

Saygus, a Utah-based mobile device maker, attracted considerable attention with its Vphone, a CDMA device that can handle real time two-way video streaming between two handheld devices (the carriers are just going to LOVE that, aren't they?).

Saygus has been around for more than a decade, but next month will launch the Vphone on an unspecified carrier's network (Verizon and Sprint are the only U.S. carriers that support CDMA). The question is, will that carrier permit device-to-device streaming, and if so, how much will it cost? Given AT&T's well publicized foot dragging in adding multimedia messaging functionality for iPhone users, that's a question worth asking.

Klipsch is well known for home audio systems, but at CES 2010 it's showing off LightSpeaker, a system that combines wireless speakers and LED lights and screws into recessed ceiling light fixtures with a standard Edison socket.

Developed in conjunction with Kadence Designs, Lightspeaker comes with a 2.4GHz wireless receiver that handles up to eight speakers; a 20-watt digital amplifier; and a 2.5-inch wide dispersion driver. The LED light shines with the brightness of a 65-watt incandescent bulb.

Klipsch claims that the light bulbs in LightSpeaker last up to 15 years. In the age of green everything, that's a value proposition that doesn't need a whole lot of explaining.

Taiwan-based vendor MSI Wind has been an active player in the netbook and notebook market, and at CES 2010 the company launched its U160 netbook, which features an almost unbelievable 9 hours of battery life and a 'Chiclet' keyboard that doesn't require chicken-size fingers in order to work comfortably with. The U160 is powered by a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor and is priced starting at $350.

MSI Wind launched its U135 netbook last month and unveiled it at CES 2010. Slightly smaller than the U160 -- and a bit cheaper at $330, the U135 is aimed at budget conscious buyers who want something a bit more portable than the U160. Like the U160, the U135 is powered by a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor.

Wuala, a free secure online storage service from French storage hardware vendor LaCie, at CES 2010 offered a glimpse of what it thinks the future of cloud-based storage for consumers will look like. Wuala users start out with 1 GB of free storage, and they can obtain additional capacity by trading their idle disk space or by purchasing more storage.

Wuala files are encrypted before leaving the user's computer, which means no one, not even LaCie, has access to the files. If security is a hurdle for companies looking to get into the cloud, Wuala's service looks like it could assuage their concerns.

Inada, which bills itself as the world's largest and most innovative manufacturer of shiatsu massage chairs, also claims to commit more resources to massage chair R&D than any company in the world. Judging from the steady stream of CES 2010 attendees visiting Inada's booth to test out Inada's massage chairs, this has been money well spent.

Hannspree makes a range of attractive, well designed products, but the grinding recession and ongoing economic uncertainty could certainly have led some folks to question the practical value of their wares. However, no one can deny that every home should have a polar bear with a flat panel LCD inside of it. Indeed, on this subject, there should be no debate.

Oregon Scientific was on hand to show off its new wellness and energy monitoring line of products, which are designed to calm stressed minds and soothe frayed nerves. This may look like an alarm clock, and as such, wouldn't seem to fall into any sort of category of products that makes people better. But on closer inspection, one discovers that this is actually an aromatherapy device with oscillating lights in different eye pleasing hues.

Lenovo obviously sees CES 2010 as its Super Bowl. How else to interpret the dizzying array of new netbooks and notebooks it's showing off at the event?

Lenovo's new IdeaPad U1 Hybrid notebook-tablet product -- which features a detachable 11.6-inch LED -- nearly caused a riot on the show floor as curious media members craned their necks for a better look.

Sam Dusi, vice president of product marketing for Lenovo International, shows off his company's new Skylight Smartbook, which features a rounded edge clamshell design, a 10-inch screen, and runs on an ARM-based processor.

This long-rumored device is finally here, and at $449, the ThinkPad X100e offers notebook-type specs at a netbook type price. With an 11.6-inch screen, full-size keyboard and AMD Athlon Neo processor, not to mention an undeniably attractive design, the ThinkPad X100e is going to appeal to lots of customers that have grown weary of dealing with the limitations of netbooks.