When we wrote our CES follow up piece we broke down the technology we saw into several categories including one of my favorites, 'Other Stuff'. The products that follow fall well into that category. These products won't make your computer run faster, sharpen the resolution on your flat screen TV or help you take better videos. They might, however, help make your life a little easier or more fun.
The Loc8tor is a combination of small key fob transmitters and a small PDA like receiver. The idea behind the Loc8tor is to attach the small transmitters to items you are likely to loose or misplace, like your keys, your cat or possibly your spouse in a shopping center. We tried two out of three.
The receiver acts as a directional signal detector to start you moving in the right direction. As you point the device in the proper direction and move closer to your prey, the signal gets audibly louder and the meter lines on the screen get longer. Although there are 3 lines on the screen that would seem to indicate direction, they really don’t. They all just get longer or shorter depending on the signal strength.
The homing tags are about an inch long and a 1/4 inch thick. Attaching them to a stationary object such as keys or a cell phone is simple enough. You can use either the key ring loop or the adhesive tape, both provided. Losing the items for testing was no problem. I do that on a regular basis. Locating lost items is as simple as the push of a button. You indicate what item you seek (each homing tag can be named during setup e.g. keys, cat, wife etc.) and the Loc8tor handset starts to beep if it is within range. All you do then is adjust your direction in response to the audible beeps and watch the indicator bars lengthen as you close in on your lost treasure.
Attaching the homing tags to movable items such as pets or spouses does require some cooperation. However, if done successfully, in limited distance uses, such as a few aisles in the supermarket, it works very well in reuniting loved ones.
We didn’t have as much success with the panic tags. These are identical to the homing tags except that you can push a button on the tag to signal the handset. This concept is excellent for small children, the elderly or anyone else who may find themselves in a situation that requires an immediate response. The problem we ran into was ‘false positives’. The panic tags allow you to set a distance range from the receiver, near, medium or far. If the tag moves outside of that range, the handset automatically sounds an alert. Again, a wonderful idea for anyone or anything (even a laptop) that might wonder off. We found, however, that even in standard home or office conditions, we were constantly getting ‘beeped’ when nothing was done to warrant it. I can’t tell you how many times I went back and forth to see if someone was activating the device.
The manufacturer says that maximum range is 600 feet in optimal, clear line of sight situations. We found that distance drastically reduced (< 50’) in some of our daily living tests.
We didn’t expect perfection from this device. It isn’t military grade hardware. However, at $169.00 it’s not what I would call a toy either. For your basic lost keys scenario, this can be a real life saver. If you’re like me, it may well be worth the investment.
If you lose the Loc8tor handset, well, you’re on your own.
Another product we previously mentioned was the HydraBrush. This is an intriguing new approach to dental care that took us completely by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to be shown an electric toothbrush at the CES press event I attended and I was even more surprised when one showed up for testing. It turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.
The Hydra in HydraBrush is reminiscent of the mythical multiheaded beast. Well named given its 4 headed brush configuration. While at first intimidating, and yes, the brushing experience does take one or two tries to get used to, the overall effect is to leave your teeth, mouth and gums feeling quite clean and refreshed. I did, however, leave the acid test to my dentist. I have used this device for several months now and at my last checkup I was informed that my tooth surfaces never looked so good.
I could easily write several more paragraphs about this surprising piece of dental hygiene, but for a more interesting insight, see this months article ‘From Where I Sit’ by Contributing Editor Lee Coty.