CES - Reporter's notebook: Devices that everyone noticed

Big draws were the Taser Holster/MP3 player and an air guitar game for rock star wannabes

A visitor to the Consumer Electronics Show can't take in all the new products, but some devices caught the eye of just about everybody.

A Taser/MP3 player

For example, Taser International in Arizona, showed a prototype of a holster for its tasers that incorporates an MP3 player, with a port to connect an earphone wire. It will sell later this year in the U.S. and France for US$80, while the taser gun goes for US$349.

The MP3 player could be used by a person wearing the holstered taser, said Taser sales manager Doug Cote. The company has sold tasers to the public for 14 years, except in seven states and several cities where they are illegal, he said.

Taser markets many of its products as a means of personal protection for women, but a steady stream of men showed up at its booth one afternoon to see its products and meet former Playboy bunnies who handed out autographed photos.

Tasers work by delivering an electrical charge called a T-wave through small wires ejected from the gun that attach to an attacker or other subject to incapacitate him. Taser is also working on a product for law enforcement officials to deliver the T-wave wirelessly, in a sense, through a 12-gauge shotgun shell that is fired from a gun and delivers the charge when it hits its target, he said.

Be an Air Guitar hero

Here's a new way to rock on. The popularity of the Guitar Hero computer game has reached the air guitar stage. With the game, Air Guitar Rocker, a player dons a belt with a special buckle that is connected to a small amplifier on the belt, and then uses a guitar pick to activate the belt magnetically. Each time the pick passes over the buckle, another chord of pre-recorded music is played on the amp. Users can play as fast or slow as they want.

Jada Toys purchased licenses of songs from the original Guitar Hero game, to allow air guitar playing of Black Sabbath, Van Halen and Boston, among others. Ten riffs are included in the game with the belt, amplifier and two picks for US$29.99. It goes on sale in March.

While it may seem like a simple game, a spokeswoman said it's expected to be popular especially in Europe, where the air guitar phenomenon is pervasive. At a special showing to news media one night, dozens of TV reporters and others lined up to riff wildly for their colleagues.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld
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