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Living the Digital Life by Carolyn Donovan

Ah, the Digital Life: on-the-go gadgetry to keep pace with the crazy techno-life we lead. Okay, maybe not me, maybe you. I would like a phone that you can buy stuff with, but I think I’d have to move to Japan to get that. Oh wow, maybe it IS me.

We went to the Ditigal Life show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. What alot of...stuff, some of which we already have!!

Lalalala, You Can Skip To Your Lou With These Laptop Bags

The Lala Laptop corner booth (in the Cosmo Lounge area) was so arresting in its bright colors and welcoming setup (they had chocolate in a bowl!) that I stopped by to talk. Lauren Selig created her laptop bags when she couldn’t find one that was practical and fun. She created Lala bags less than a year ago, and she’s doing fine, thankyouverymuch. She sells leather and suede versions of a really useful laptop bag, in nine color combos (six in leather, three in suede).

Diana Rigg had one of these in "The Avengers," didin't she?

The bag’s got lots of properly-sized pockets that fit cell phones and power adapters and other things that go with the laptop even if they aren’t the laptop themselves. The middle one in the photo above actually detaches so you can take it to lunch! And the straps were actually designed to stay on your shoulder, and are wide enough that the weight is distributed nicely. A feature that I think could only have been designed by a woman who has previously slid work bags behind her legs on a train in Winter only to find that the floor is a sloppy, mucky mess is the metal feet that keep the bags off of all horizontal surfaces. Apparently the Lala laptop bags make nifty baby bag as well…

Retail: around $400


Sega, I see Sam but not Sally

Being a gadget show, Digital Life had umpteen game-thingy companies. Sega had a huge section where people could try out the company’s offerings, and it was pretty full. I saw one female playing, out of I would say 30 people, but she was press from Yahoo. So, my question is: does Sega make anything interesting for females, or do females have interests that don’t include gaming? I mean, I have no interest in gaming, but is that because I’m a gaming dope or because I think it’s boring? If I think it’s boring, is it because I’m a gaming dope, or is it because the idea of killing things, even electronically, poses no interest whatsoever? Hmm…


Xavix Could Be The Xavior For Overweight Kids – And Grownups, Too

I stopped by the XaviX section because three of their women show participants were doing this interactive bass fishing thing. My sense is that bass fishing has less of a female following than gaming does, so I had to ask them why they were doing it. “Because it’s fun,” they told me. Yeah, right. Apparently, however, the Xavix Bass Fishing package IS fun (I refused a turn because I’m a vegetarian and, well, vegetarians just don’t fish, even electronically).

XaviX has this box/station/thingamajig that not only connects to your television, it responds to your actions, thus creating an interactive sports experience. No longer do you just use your thumbs to “play” baseball. Each sport has a cartridge that you put into the box/station/thingamajig and a piece of sports equipment. So the baseball game comes with a bat, the fishing comes with a reel, the golf comes with a putter and a driver. The box/station/thingamajigs has radio frequency things and optical readers and whatnot, so you actually swing at a ball (if you strike out, that’s your fault, bub).

You get the cartridge, and the bowling ball, and you actually bowl!

XaviX teamed up with Jackie Chan Studio to bring two really cool items to the market. One is an “in Jackie’s shoes” experience where the user stands on a wireless pad and runs (in place) with Jackie through the streets of Hong Kong, jumping over and running around things. Other parts to the package are fitness-related as well; while I was there I saw the cutest little kid doing the “how many steps in 10 seconds?” thing, and he did it about three times, trying to beat his own record. He was having a lot of fun. This stuff redefines what interactive television means. I can see how a family could all be involved in using this together, and could all get a little fitter to boot.

He's still as cute as a button, and so fit!

The collaboration with JCS has also produced an interactive boxing game that someone at the booth was having a heck of a time at. Good way to blow off steam without hurting yourself or someone else.

XaviX is going around the country with these cool wrapped SUVs. The back opens to reveal a 42-inch plasma, the XaviX box, and the game cartridges with paraphernalia, all designed to give people an interactive taste of their interactive offerings. They were in Boston last year during the run up to the World Series (sigh, all was right with the world last year…) and had a lot of fun with their version of baseball at one of the bars on Yawkey Way (next to Fenway Park, people, keep up).

Another great thing is that these electronics are actually affordable. The base is around $80, and the games range between $40 and $90. WowWee tells me the base won’t be updated every year, unlike some other, bigger, “We’ve got the gaming industry by the balls and can come out with a new box every month if we want” companies.

If you like baseball, tennis, bowling, golf, bass fishing, boxing, or jumping up and down on a mat (hmm, that doesn't seem like a positive description...), then check out XaviX's offerings.

Retail: $40-$90


“And Your Little Dog, Too” Oh Wait, That’s A RoboRaptor

Remember that little robotic guy from last holiday season, the white and black robosabien that looked a little like a Storm Trooper gone to seed? Well, this year he’s got his big brother with him, and that brother’s got a pet that would fit right in at Jurassic Park (if all the dinosaurs were robots).

He's kind to animals...

These are the scariest things I’ve seen in a long time. RoboSabien2 can bowl, for heaven’s sake. The WowWee Robotics Company hired some robotics guy from NASA to create lifelike robots that move in a very human way. Unless of course you’re talking about the RoboRaptor, which moves like it would love to tear a chunk off of you, if only it had a stomach…

I was told that people love to hack these things. Someone took the head off the RoboSapien and replaced it with an iPod. Those wacky Apple acolytes!

I hope I don’t have weird “Planet of the Apes” dreams tonight after watching their Alive Chimpanzee watch me. Talk about frickin’ life-like, it even bared its teeth at me (well, I was sticking my tongue out at it at the time). You can interact with it using what looks like a game console but is really a version of an animatronic board. Thank goodness this thing is only head and some shoulders. Martini, please!

And to think we share 99% of the same genes...

Robotics from $79.99 to $250 (big brother is really big)


From the “You mean it didn’t always work like that?” department

You know why you can’t put a movie on a CD? Because it’s too big. You know why you can’t email a movie to someone? Because it’s too big. You know why it takes forever to download movies? Because they’re too big. Well, not any more. DivX has taken the MP4 form factor and made it easy to use. It’s all about compression, baby. If you’ve got a movie of a guy standing there waving, why not keep the standing still part the same and only identify the waving part as being different? It’s called temporal compression, and while there may be a space/time continuum thing going on there as well, the software DivX offers to the retail market is amazingly simple to use. I can even write the user manual for it right now: open DivX interface; drag movie file into DivX interface, click okay. I don’t need to know nuthin’ else. And I like that! As I'm sure do lots of others: I was once hired by a very rich banker type on Beacon Hill to come to his house and update his family's computer to the new Windows release – whatever it was – because he was afraid he’d do it wrong. Why was he afraid he’d do it wrong? Because the update came on FORTY-SIX disks. So I know about people not knowing how to do stuff.

Lots of equipment are already using or accepting the DivX form factor, so it’s not like making movies with this thing will put you in the 0.031% of users who use it. Apparently it’s everywhere.

The DivX people were really honest and said their software was created to make the compression thing easy to use, but it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. However, their technology has been licensed to other companies whose software does have a lot of bells and whistles. So if you’re new to this whole movie-making thing, pick up a copy of the DivX software and start making great small movies.


Pink is NOT the New Black

I am not, as it turns out, a youthful teen oriented person, so the T-Mobile/Juicy Couture collaboration on a limited-edition Sidekick II was lost on me. It’s hard enough to be a parent without marketers in New York deciding to make a $399 gadget a must-have for the 14-24’s. The “zen of creating your own personalized private world in the public world” my eye. Kids want to personalize their world so that it’s just like their friend’s personalized world. What annoyed me the most was that the branded Sidekick is pink. Okay, so Juicy Couture’s color is pink (and brown, I think), but enough already, people. PLEASE stop making pink screw drivers for women. And who decided that “chic lit” book covers have to be pink? Mary Kay?


The Women Aren’t Even In the Bathroom

I can’t help it, I see the world through the eyes of a woman. I don’t often think about that, that I see things from a female perspective because it doesn’t often seem like a difference, but today at Digital Life, it dawned on me that there were practically no women there, not even in the press. I would say that fewer than 15% of the technology press was women. I know they’re out there, because I’m out there. I don’t give a rat’s fart about 3D headsets that cost more than my first car, but so what? Is the show kinda male-centric because that’s who the audience is? Were all of the speakers men because women don't have anything to say about consumer technology? Considering women are responsible for 83% of all consumer purchases (including 51% of consumer electronics), I don't think that's it. I don't know what it is, but I knew I stood out just by being there, and it wasn't my 1-inch heels that was the culprit.

If you too are a techno-babe who wonders maybe if you also are alone in the wilderness, you might want to check out Women in Technology International, an organization whose mission it is to bring together and empower techno-savvy women. It has close to half a million associates worldwide. And a really great thing about WITI?

Pink is not one of its colors.



Digital Life Show – Jacob Javits Center, New York City, October 14-16, 2005



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