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This year, for the annual gadget Bacchanal known as CES (the Consumer Electronics Show), we did something a little different — we took a MAKEcation! From the sidelines, we covered a few things that weren’t being covered, and some things through a uniquely MAKE lens. Here’s our wrap-up. If you saw tech, at the actual show, or via online coverage, that you got particularly jazzed about, head to comments and share some of your enthusiasm.

alt.CES – DIY full auto book scanner

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This is just what I was hoping someone had built! Totally awesome. Now it just needs to add OCR and text-to-speech to convert to MP3s that you can listen to. Thanks to woyzeck in the comments for the link.

alt.CES – Scan books into audio files

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Plustek is showing this $700 Book Reader V100 at CES 2009. It scans books directly into MP3 audio files using optical code recognition (OCR) and a tiny little man with a mellifluous baritone voice trapped inside. Or some kind of text-to-speech program. I’m not sure which.

alt.CES – Mattel Mindflex


Here’s another “mind control” toy, these will be fun to take apart via CrunchGear

alt.CES – “Google makes an open source hardware router”…

SD Times Blog says Google might be working on their own router…

alt.CES – Songsmith

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Microsoft Research Songsmith… Sing in to it, and it makes music…

You really need to watch the video, it’s surreal…

alt.CES – Sony Vaio P dissected

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Sony announced a super tiny Vaio, the P series – here are some lovely dissection photos of it – it’s amazing what’s crammed in there.

alt.CES – green “in” at CES

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The Pharos Lens: one “green nutrition label” project Companies at CES may be starting to equate being green with making green

alt.CES – Electro-Harmonix Voice Box


I’ve often considered Electro-Harmonix the coolest mainstream manufacturer of effects pedals and this new product is further proof. The Voice Box is both a vocoder and harmonizer unit with mic and instrument inputs. Along with built in reverb, tone control, and phantom power this unit provides “gender” changing options…

alt.CES – DIY 3D scanners roundup

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Really like the new 3D desktop scanner by RealView. They have 3 models available. Unfortunately there isn’t any word on price, but I am guessing they aren’t cheap.

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alt.CES – Brainwave scanner toys

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Toy trains ‘Star Wars’ fans to use The Force

alt.CES – WowWee at CES

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Amongst this year’s toybots (e.g. Joebot — think: male analog to the Femisapien and Roborover — successor to the Tri-Bot), the Spybot looks interesting, a leaner, meaning (next gen?) version of the Rovio. And it’s only $170. It doesn’t appear to use TrueTrack nav. Let’s hope the light is brighter and the camera is better than the Rovio.

Strange among this year’s offerings is the Cinemin, a family of palm-top video projectors using TI’s DLP technology. They’re designed to plug into iPods, phones, and other media devices, to project their content. Will the next Robosapien be able to project Princess Leia’s cries for help? The Cinemins will retail for between $300 and $400.

alt.CES – BUGLab modules

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Bug Labs announced five new BUGmodules… Each BUGmodule represents a specific gadget function (e.g. a camera, a keyboard, a video output, etc.) that can be snapped to the BUGbase, a programmable Linux-based mini-computer with four available BUGmodule slots.

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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