Great New Gadgets for Work and Play

By Hannah Wallace July 31, 2007

MAN’S BEST FRIEND Recent developments in Asia indicate your children will accept robots as you accepted the computer. They'll be just as indispensable. Consider that Pres. George W. Bush shook hands not long ago with a South Korean-made robot named Albert Hubo (short for human-robot). Albert has a skin-like face of material called Frubber and is a dead ringer for Albert Einstein. Japan recently introduced the Child-Robot with Biometric Body, or CB2 for short. He's not ready for adoption from the Japan Science and Technology Agency, but keep dreaming and you might bring a robotic child into your family by next summer.

NIGHT LIGHT On long, hot summer days, you can now wait for evening to toss around your flying disks. A new Frisbee-like model called the Odyssey Ultimate Disc has a rechargeable lithium ion battery and four high-intensity LED lights inside it. It's bright enough to be seen for two miles. And you can have one in green, blue or red. Slap some glow strips on your hips and play night toss and catch. This even opens up Night Frisbee Golf. About $20.

POWERFUL TOOL The peak of hurricane season is fast approaching, so you should already own a DC-to-AC power converter that runs off your vehicle's cigarette lighter outlet. But the relatively inexpensive Multi-Port Power Inverter is special. You get a 110-volt AC outlet, your regular cigarette lighter socket and two USB ports that can power your iPod, Blackberry, PDA or camera. It’s small enough to keep in the glove compartment. You'll appreciate having it to power your computer or recharge your dead cell phone battery. $39.95.

CALORIE CALL The clever Japanese have figured out a way to determine what's in that restaurant dish you'll enjoy tonight. In Japan, where everyone seems to have a cell phone in nonstop use, there are services that work this way: Use your cell phone camera to snap a photo of the plate of food and send it to a nutritionist, who analyzes it and then gives you the bad news that you should have ordered the broiled salmon. The word is the service will soon be available on our shores.

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