Lantos Technologies demonstrated how simple and relatively discomfort-free it is to take an impression of the average person’s ear canal with their new 3D digital ear scanning technology. Taking an accurate and complete impression of the ear canal is incredibly important when it comes to making custom earpieces for hearing aids, noise protection, and custom audio (i.e., high-performance earbud-style headphones). The traditional process of taking an ear canal impression involves examining the ear canal, inserting an otocblock into the ear canal to protect the tympanic membrane from harm, and then filling the ear canal with an pliable impression material that takes about five to ten minutes to solidify before it can be removed. (Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?) The Lantos technology uses
emission re-absorption laser induced fluorescence (ERLIF) [and] was developed by Dr. Douglas Hart at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Using the intensity measurement of two different wavelength bands of fluorescent light as they travel through an absorbing medium, ERLIF generates a highly accurate 3D map. The medium selectively absorbs one wavelength band over the other, thus the intensity ratio of the two wavelengths as they travel through the medium can be measured using a standard camera…
During a sparsely attended press conference at CES, Lantos representatives demonstrated the process using the Lantos Scanner, which is a small, handheld device that includes a fiberscope enclosed in a conforming membrane. Once gently inserted in the ear canal, the membrane is expanded and conforms to the shape of the ear canal. As the fiberscope is retracted, it creates a 3D image of the ear canal in real time – with the entire process taking less than two minutes per ear. The resulting scan is typically much more accurate than the standard impression technique provides and has the advantage of immediately being available as a digital data file that can be sent electronically to a manufacturer.
Currently it’s somewhat expensive (>$100), time-consuming, and often uncomfortable to go to an audiologist who can make a custom ear canal impression which can be sent to an earphone manufacturer (such as Etymotic) in order to create an individually customized earbud insert. Once FDA-approved in the US, the Lantos 3D Digital Ear Scanner promises to make customized earpieces much more widely available.
The good people at NextGen showed off their new “universal” active shutter 3D glasses. Each set comes with two additional nosepieces that allow you to adjust the glasses for the most comfortable fit, a USB charging cable, a carrying pouch, and a cleaning cloth. The current $79 version supports IR-sync based 3DTV systems, but RF and Bluetooth models will be available shortly.
Aton’s HDR44 can take four HD (up to 1080p) or SD sources along with their associated audio signals (plus pass IR commands) and distribute them to up to four zones using dual Cat 5 cables. If that’s not enough for you, you can add a second HD router and expand the distribution up to eight zones; although four sources is still the limit. The $1,899 HDR44 Kit includes one HD Video Router, 4 surface-mount receivers, and a system remote control. Additional routers are $1,299.
Paying premium prices to sit in the exclusive Club Level at Miami's Dolphin Stadium during this year's Super Bowl means you won't have to actually watch the game from your primo perch. Instead, you'll be able to munch crackers and caviar while spilling champagne on yourself, all in front of one of eight 103" Panasonic Professional 1080p HD plasma displays (TH-103PF9UK).
One of the best parts of CES is the intellectually stimulating entertainment you’ll find at the various booths. Instead of the traditional scantily clad young women with heels so high they can barely walk, this booth chose to use a slightly different type of bird to draw attention.
Pioneer says they'll begin shipping one of the industry's first Blu-ray disc computer drives during the first quarter of 2006. The new Pioneer BDR-101A will be able to store up to 25 GB of data on a single-layer Blu-ray disc.
What I’m about to say borders on heresy. But before I risk being virtually burned at the digital stake, let me tell you that, although I am older than most of the writers in this industry, I am not old-fashioned. I don’t pine for the days of spending hours at the record store flipping through bins of vinyl albums, nor do I miss fiddling with my Nakamichi BX-300 (I couldn’t afford a Dragon...) in order to make cassette tapes of those albums for my car. I like - no, I love - most modern technology and crave more of it. (Bring on the domestic robots, I say! Just don’t make them with any of those scary-ass faces some Japanese researchers have designed. If they’re going to be our overlords, I want them to at least look good.)
Remote control behemoth manufacturer Universal Remote Control is now offering control dimmers, lamp dimmers, and switches that work with a large number the company’s universal remote controls. The dimmers and such are made by lighting behemoth manufacturer Lutron specifically for URC. The system is ideal for single rooms (like home theaters) or small homes, and I’ve never seen a system in which it was so easy to program various lighting control scenes. It literally takes minutes and you’re done. Dimming switches are around $150 each, but there’s nothing extra that’s needed to make the remote controls work with the switches.
Wiremold wants do-it-yourself flat-panel TV installers to play hide-and-seek with the many cables plasma and LCD TVs have to have in order to do their thing. Professional installers have the wherewithal to slip those butt-ugly cables in the wall behind a high-tech display; but you and I might not be so inclined, nor do we have the tools necessary to make an in-the-wall install really stay in the wall. (If you think a crowbar might be a good tool to use when installing any kind of electronics in the wall, you should consider consulting a professional.)