Hanover, Germany (AFP) March 5, 2008
If swimming goggles with an in-built underwater camera, a bamboo laptop or a pink crocodile PC case is your thing then Germany's CeBIT IT fair is for you.
The technology fair, with 5,500 exhibitors the world's biggest, opened its doors to the public in Hanover on Tuesday and runs to March 9, allowing thousands of visitors to check out the hottest and also the weirdest gadgets.
A chilly wind was blowing across the vast exhibition centre, but when summer comes Liquid Image thinks its yellow goggles with an in-built digital camera are just the accessory.
On the top of the range model, which sells for 129 euros, the 5.0 megapixel camera and 16 megabite memory allows you to take up to 29 photos or 53 seconds of video up to a depth of 30 metres (100 feet), the firm says.
Also on show for eyeware was a pair of sunglasses from Chinese firm Xonix not only with an in-built camera but also with an MP3 player, while another from Taiwan's Inter Brands includes music and bluetooth so you can use it as a phone.
But forget the glasses -- in the 21st century you can't be seen toting your laptop around in anything other than a pink, fake crocodile skin case, or so French firm Sweetcover would have you believe.
Their cases, which also come in other more traditional colours and materials including real leather, retail for around 70 euros (105 dollars) in Paris boutiques and soon elsewhere, the firm's founder and president Raphael Taieb told AFP.
Not only will you avoid getting hot knees, he says, but the cover's high-tech design, which incorporates 70 different fabrics, ensures the computer will not overheat -- something which other luxury goods makers have failed to achieve with their prototypes, Taieb claims.
The cases will protect your laptop and turn it into a "subtle and seductive" piece of hardware, the company says. It has straps to keep the computer in place, is open at the sides and has holes in the back for cables.
Other bling-bling novelties included a Giorgio Armani mobile phone from Samsung and a Lamborghini laptop complete with the Italian sportscar maker's badge and partly made of leather -- yours to take home for 2,999 euros (4,561 dollars) with an aerodynamic mouse with yellow go-faster stripes.
Its maker Asus was also showing off computers made partly out of bamboo --- to give it an eco-friendly style, a salesman at the Taiwanese firm's stand said. It has not yet decided whether to launch them on the market, however.
On the sillier side, Californian firm Ugobe presented a small, robotic dinosaur dubbed Pleo similar to Sony's AIBO robotic dog that has to be looked after and nurtured like a Tamagotchi.
Pleo can be programmed via a USB cable connected to your computer or with a memory card slotted into its underbelly so it can learn new tricks like barking at intruders or performing a leaf tug-of-war with another Pleo or its owner.
The green and brown pet, which retails for around 300 euros in Europe, is babylike when young and coos and purrs with pleasure when tickled under the chin. But it also gets hungry and can have mood swings, just like humans.
It is based on the Camarasaurus, a late-Jurassic North American herbivore, 20 metres (66 feet) long in adulthood. Members of the online Pleo community can even create their own tricks to upload.
And if you want to keep an eye on your sleeping baby -- or to make sure Pleo isn't bothering the cat downstairs -- China's RDI was presenting a teddy bear with a hidden camera in its left eye.
earlier related report
In trademark enigmatic style, Apple provided scant detail regarding what it plans to debut at an invitation-only event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California.
"Please join us to learn about the iPhone software roadmap, including the iPhone SDK (software developer kit) and some exciting new enterprise features," an invitation reads.
Apple is apparently following through on a promise its iconic chief executive Steve Jobs made in October to open the zealously guarded inner workings of iPhones to computer programs made by outsiders.
Gartner analyst Van Baker expects Apple to skew opportunities in favor of large, established developers and be wary of letting maverick software savants play unfettered with iPhone software.
"I think Apple is going to keep a pretty tight rein on this because the last thing they want is some fly-by-night guy writing an iPhone program that breaks it," Baker told AFP.
Apple is expected to make iPhones more compatible with business applications, such as receiving email "pushed" from company servers, in a move that would challenge BlackBerry devices made by Research In Motion.
Apple wants to let developers tinker with iPhone software while simultaneously protecting against viruses and other malicious code.
Jobs is on record saying he expects iPhones to be "a highly visible target" for malevolent software wizards.
Applications made for iPhones should also work on the new iPod Touch, which is essentially an iPhone without the mobile phone feature.
Jobs said Apple might take a lesson from Nokia, which is not allowing outside applications onto some of their new mobile telephone models unless the software has a "digital signature" from a known developer.
Hackers began prying open iPhones to insert custom applications, and break the exclusive service tie between the devices and telecom giant AT&T, shortly after the mobile phones made their US debut in June of last year.
Jobs said in February that Apple has sold more than four million iPhones, touch-screen mobile devices combining telephone, video, music, and Internet connectivity.
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Microsoft kicks off CeBIT tech fair with green message
Hanover, Germany (AFP) March 3, 2008
Software giant Microsoft called Monday on the IT industry to reduce its carbon footprint as CeBIT, the world's largest tech fair, kicked off in Germany with a focus on climate change.
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