Tech Toys

By Hannah Wallace November 30, 2004


Since the 1980s, a Holy Grail has been a computer that recognizes your handwriting and then creates printed text. The latest attempt comes in the form of the Logitech IO digital pen, a $199, overweight ballpoint with a camera inside. As you write on special paper, the pen records each stroke-letters, numbers or drawings-then duplicates those marks on a computer screen. A program tries to create printed text (but you'll still need to do cleanup editing). For some, this pen marks a new era, but most of us will wait for a smaller, less expensive, more accurate one.


Everyone is concerned with child safety, right? What if you could track the little darlings and always be in touch? England is showing the way with a device called MYMO, and you can bet it will be introduced in the United States before long. MYMO is a unique wireless phone worn around a child's neck. It can be preprogrammed with five phone numbers and is designed for easy use by 4-year-olds. Each phone comes with a necklace and earpiece. The phone can be registered so a parent can track a child, viewing the location by logging onto an Internet site. About $70.


Around any town today, you'll see little imported cars with neon lights shining under them. There are even neon spinners for wheels. Now Down Low Glow is selling one- or two-tube sets for all styles of bicycles. One tube will set you back $99; two tubes are $149. The system comes complete with all hardware needed, plus rechargeable batteries. Installation is not permanent and takes about five minutes, the company says. But could it be "gone in 60 seconds"? Careful where you park.


Videoconferencing has become popular for business and personal communication. All you need is a camera attached to a computer port to transmit your image and voice to other parties while you see and hear them on your computer. The programs to make it work are free; the Web cams were dirt cheap, but boring until FancyLogic introduced its Webcam 352. The ball-shaped cameras come in three guises-Kenny of South Park, a sombrero-wearing camera with Mexican shirt, and a pair of his/hers in wedding attire. They sit atop your monitor and each contains its own microphone. About $40 for a single cam; $80 for the his/hers set.

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