CeBIT: Gadgets galore at world's top tech fair

Mar 02, 2011 by Richard Carter
Ranging from the futuristic to the ingenious to the downright pointless, the world's biggest IT expo this year showcased thousands of the latest gadgets to pull in the 350,000 visitors expected to travel to Hanover in northern Germany.

A Shakespeare-reciting robot, the world's most merciless alarm clock and "intelligent" cocktail shakers were among the gadgets wowing visitors at the CeBIT high-tech fair on Wednesday.

Ranging from the futuristic to the ingenious to the downright pointless, the world's biggest IT expo this year showcased thousands of the latest gadgets to pull in the 350,000 visitors expected to travel to Hanover in northern Germany.

No one finds it easy to wake up in the morning. But even the heaviest sleeper has found his match in the "intelligent" alarm clock designed by students at the Technical University of Wildau in Germany.

At the appointed time, the clock communicates with the curtains in the user's bedroom, instructing them to open. Five minutes later, it turns on the bedside lamp. Five minutes after that, the radio is turned on, then an alarm.

The sleepy user can only stop this pitiless process by standing on a sensor pad beside the bed for five seconds. When the is satisfied its master is awake, it stops the alarm and turns on the coffee machine as reward.

"It was conceived by my students who sometimes find it tricky to get out of bed for classes," explained Birgit Wilkes from the university.

"But it has a serious application. We are using similar to monitor the homes of old people to detect if they have had a fall," she added.

Worried about hair loss? Itching to see if you have a bald patch on top of your head? Then Spec, a Hong-Kong based firm, has the product for you with its hairbrush-cum-camera with built-in magnifier.

The user simply runs the brush through his hair and a magnified image of the scalp is transmitted to a computer, which then analyses the hair density over time to judge whether the dreaded baldness is setting in.

A Shakespeare-reciting robot, the world's most merciless alarm clock and "intelligent" cocktail shakers were among the gadgets wowing visitors at the CeBIT high-tech fair on Wednesday.

For the dental-health conscious, the company has also pioneered a toothbrush with a built-in camera that shows up hard-to-reach tooth plaque and tracks how efficiently you are brushing your teeth.

And for the discerning geek, the German Centre for Artificial Intelligence has created the "intelligent" talking cocktail shaker to ensure that every White Russian or Singapore Sling is mixed and poured to perfection.

The user inputs his or her chosen cocktail and the shaker's "voice" cheerfully offers the correct recipe.

Linked wirelessly to tiny devices on bottles on the bar, it ensures no mistakes are made no matter how many drinks have been consumed and berates the budding cocktail waiter in no uncertain terms if the wrong booze is selected.

This done, it offers pointers on how best to shake the cocktail, again reacting angrily if it senses its tips are not being followed to the letter.

Other were less practical, from sunglasses with a built-in camcorder to record exactly what your eye sees, a miniature helicopter piloted by iPhone to an electronic smokeless cigarette that replicates the sensation of smoking.

But there was no doubt what stole the show: the Shakespeare-reciting, multilingual, all-singing, all-dancing sleek life-sized white robot called the "RoboThespian" who drew huge crowds with its cheeky tricks.

More than 4,200 tech firms from 70 countries are expected to attend this year's CeBIT, with many of the big names that stayed away during the global financial crisis returning to Germany. The fair is running until March 5, 2011.

From delivering the soliloquy from "Hamlet", complete with over-the-top theatrical actions, to impersonating another famous robot -- C3PO from "Star Wars" -- the charming computer quickly became the fair's star attraction.

Yours for a snip at 55,000 pounds (65,000 euros, $90,000), the "RoboThespian" has already featured at NASA, as well as at robot museums and banks, where it acts as a tour guide-cum-greeter with a difference.

Just don't get too close. The amorous and ever-friendly robot is not afraid of trying to plant a kiss on the cheeks of anyone it senses standing nearby.

The runs until March 5.

Explore further: Troy Wolverton: Fire TV needs work to reach potential

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

World's biggest IT fair shoots for the clouds

Feb 27, 2011

The world's top high-tech fair opens Tuesday with the IT industry in bullish mood, preparing to wow visitors with head-spinning futuristic gadgets and the latest in 'cloud computing' technology.

Recommended for you

Review: With Galaxy S5, Samsung proves less can be more

8 hours ago

Samsung Electronics Co. has produced the most formidable rival yet to the iPhone 5S: the Galaxy S5. The device, released over the weekend, is the fifth edition of the company's successful line of Galaxy S ...

Five features an Amazon phone might offer (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

krundoloss
not rated yet Mar 02, 2011
Your momma is a tour guide-cum-greeter.
krundoloss
not rated yet Mar 04, 2011
Come on, No comments on that. Its classic!
J-n
not rated yet Mar 04, 2011
I wonder who out there needs a "hairbrush-cum-camera with built-in magnifier".

More news stories

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.