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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Gadgets

Aired January 1, 2000 - 2:08 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: The gadgets that helped us defy time, distance, numbers and what they're doing to our lives.


CARLENE STEPHENS, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY: So, the minute we start doing more at night, we are altering our very nature.

LOU WATERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're going to go nuts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we aren't already.


ANNOUNCER: And we'll look at what's ahead these next years.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Celebrating the new year means looking toward the future. But to appreciate all the advances we enjoy today, we also need to look back.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: And we've gathered around the coffee table to talk and look at the remarkable inventions and achievements of the last thousands years, as they continue to resonate through our lives.

Here's CNN's Lou Waters.


WATERS (voice-over): The burst of innovative energy began 1,000 years ago, much like today, with advances in the spread of ideas.

DENNIS STANFORD, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: This is the beginning of communications.

WATERS: The Smithsonian Institution's Dennis Stanford goes way back to illustrate the millennium's contribution to communication.

STANFORD: We go from this kind of thing happening for thousands of years to finally the invention of paper and writing. And then once we get to writing, it just leaps faster and faster until the last 100 years we've have gone from the trans-oceanic telegraph to the satellite communications. WATERS: We've always needed to communicate, to exchange ideas. Putting goose feather quill with ink to paper in the 13th century allowed composers the first chance to score their music.

Two hundred years later, a German, Johannes Gutenberg, invented a printing press using movable type. New worlds of information became available around the world.

At the turn of the 19th century, amazing things began to happen, and it started with the harnessing of electricity.

BARNEY FINN, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY: This is the voltade (ph), the pile, a battery -- the first ability to have continuous electric current, and led directly to the discovery of electromagnetism and to all the inventions of the 19th century.

WATERS: It gave us the telegraph. The year was 1844. The first message transmitted: What hath God wrought? The world communicated with dots and dashes.

Then, a man named Alexander Graham Bell took it one more step. Bell invents the telephone, Edison comes in and says, hey, I can do a better transmitter. Bell invented it and called it his electric speech machine. Edison perfected it, and by 1884, long distance calls were made between Boston and New York. By then, it was called a telephone, and it paved the way for the information superhighway.

In 1945, work began on what eventually became known as the transistor. It was an effort by Bell Labs to get ahead of the competition when Alexander Graham Bell's telephone patents expired. The transistor put the information age into high-gear.

DAVID ALLISON, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY: Lou, the computer industry that we know today began in America in 1946 with a machine called the ENIAC, electronic numerical integrator and computer, that was built during World War II.

WATERS: The Navy needed a faster way to chart its artillery fire.

ALLISON: Inside ENIAC were vacuum tubes, not transistors as we know today. What you see here is the representation of one digit of a number, zero to nine, one digit in ENIAC. Today, we'd say that's about a byte of memory. And this is what that took in 1946.

Now today I carry in my pocket a Palm Pilot that has eight million bytes, eight megabytes of memory and is stored in this little device, compared to one byte in 1946.

WATERS: And here we are, communicating at lightning speed.

Our need to reach out, first in the wind-powered ships, led to the exploration of Europe and America and then to the voyage Christopher Columbus in 1492.

Travel remained dependent on wind and muscle until the harnessing of steam.

WILLIAM WITHUHN, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY: It happened incredibly fast. Steam engines were invented, basically, in the 18th century. Only by the early 19th did we make locomotives. By the 1850s, we were off to a nation bound together in rails of iron.

WATERS: Then in 1886 comes patent number 37435, the first car, invented by Carl Benz in Berlin. It would bring about a technological and economic revolution.

Seven years later, in America, the Dourier (ph) put things in motion. It was a buggy with a motor, considered a play toy for the rich.

And shortly after, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville Wright makes an historic 12-second flight.

By the 1920s, Henry Ford had invented the auto assembly line, and all but a few could afford a new car.

(on camera): One dramatic example of how quickly transportation ideas were changing in the 19th century, here is a Concord American stagecoach. Seats six, good for trips from the hotel to the train depot, the year: 1848. 1948: the Tucker sedan, 166 horsepower, seats six. The possibilities were becoming endless.

(voice-over): We got here in a hurry, but where are we headed?

WITHUHN: Environmentally benign transportation, that's going to be a big challenge in the next century, in the next millennium is how to keep our mobility without ruining the planet.

WATERS: One invention changed the world forever. Its implications astonished us. They still do. It can help us or kill us.

In 1947, Albert Einstein said about nuclear energy, "An informed citizenry will act for life and not for death."

And the Doomsday Clock was born, symbolically set at seven minutes to midnight and Armageddon. We're entering a new millennium at nine minutes to midnight.

STEPHENS: Well, there's always been in almost every culture a means of keeping track of time. And around 1300 in Western Europe, somewhere, someone, came up with the device that we now know of as the mechanical clock.

On the eve of the introduction of standard time, in 1883, the railroads in North America ran on about 50 regional times.

WATERS: Every town, every city, every community across the continent could set its own time. The increments of time got smaller in the 17th century with the invention of the second hand on watches. We had invented a 24-hour day. Now we are about to celebrate a new millennium, and if you're feeling discombobulated, here's why. STEPHENS: We're doing more things as night than we ever did before. And this is a big change in our relationship to time. We are meant to sleep at night. So the minute we start doing more at night, we are altering our very nature.

WATERS (on camera): We're going to go nuts.

STEPHENS: If we aren't already.

WATERS (voice-over): And do we have the timing right on this millennium celebration?

STEPHENS: The invention of the calendar is ours, and we can use it as we like. And if we say this is the moment we are going to celebrate, who are we not to tell ourselves to do it?

WATERS: So hang on to your hats. Happy new millennium. The best is yet to come.

Lou Waters, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Fascinating look at where we've been. Next, we're going to talk about where we're going. Bad news for the folks out there who haven't yet learned to set your VCRs, Jonathan, you're going to be left behind.

MANN: I may be. This is one of the new high-tech devices we're going to be looking at, a remote control. It's supposed to get us to a commercial.

Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: The first ultrasonic remote control was invented by Dr. Robert Adler. The Zenith Space Command Remote went on sale in 1956.


ALLEN: Well, joining us now to help us figure out what kind of new devices and gizmos that we'll all need in the future is our gadget guy, Ed Curran.

MANN: He is a high-tech lifestyle reporter based in Chicago, who has his own Web site, the appropriately named

Good to see you.

ALLEN: Happy New Year.

ED CURRAN, "GADGET GUY": Happy New Year.

ALLEN: And the good thing for us to realize is we don't have to figure these things out. We just follow your lead and just go, that's neat, the whole time. CURRAN: I'll help you look.

First of all, are you keeping your schedule still on paper?

ALLEN: I am. In fact, I just bought a new notebook, because I'm just too still intimidated by this Pilot.

CURRAN: Well, you know what, the Palm has become the most popular selling electronic organizational device for PDA, personal digital assistant, around. They've sold about five million of these things.

This is from the creators of the Palm. It's called the Hands Spring Visor, but it works on the palm operating system. And these things keep your schedule, and they do all sorts of stuff, and you can sync up with your computer and do all kinds of things.

Now this...

ALLEN: My husband and I order dinner every night with our Palm Pilot and our list of restaurants.

CURRAN: You go in there and look up restaurants and everything.

ALLEN: Exactly.

CURRAN: They're marvelous, all the stuff that you can do with them.

Now with this particular one, we have a little module that's put in here because the visor has something called springboard, where you can put different modules in to make it do all kinds of thing. You can turn it into maybe a cell phone or a GPS unit, all kinds of stuff. So we put a little unit in here from a company called Widcom, and this has a new type of thing called "Blue Tooth." And Blue Tooth is a wireless radio frequency that links our items together. Blue Tooth here will allow me to link up with the little Hands Spring Visor that you're holding there.

ALLEN: I have one, too.

CURRAN: Now watch -- I have a little message to you that's on mine that says "Happy Y2K."

I am going to send it to you. Now we get a shot of you, and here we go.

Is yours turned on still?


CURRAN: Press this right here. OK, now watch very carefully here. And I press "send," and wirelessly...

ALLEN: Happy Y2K.

CURRAN: ... it goes to you.

Now Blue Tooth is named after a king from Denmark from about 1,000 years ago, and he united his country. And what Blue Tooth can do is unite all of our products. You have this linked to let's say your cell phone through this wireless protocol, which will allow transmissions within 30 feet. Let's say, have this linked to your laptop computer wirelessly by using this Blue Tooth. You can do all kinds of marvelous things. Link to the Internet through your computer by having this wireless protocol in here.

So Blue Tooth is this amazing new thing that you'll hear a lot more about later this year. And these modules from Widcom will be marketed for the Palm and for Hands Spring later on in the year. And you'll able to buy one for about $100 for each unit and link yourself up wirelessly.

ALLEN: It seems like the Palm Pilot just continues to change every few months. How is that affecting people, what they have right now? Can they add these new systems to this, or do they have a whole new system?

CURRAN: Well, that's great thing about Hands Spring here, is that you have this port where you're able to slide in a card like this and make it operate with the Booth Tooth. See, this comes right out. And then with a Hands Spring, an you also put in other cartridges and make it do all kinds of things, from playing video games on here to doing all sorts of other stuff. So it makes it an expandable and very powerful system. But these things have been very hot, these hand-held devices, as I said, with the Palm about five million sold, and now with Hands Spring very exciting because they've brought the price down and done some new stuff with it, too.

ALLEN: Price down to what.

CURRAN: It's a real neat -- they start at $179.

ALLEN: Oh, that's not bad.

CURRAN: So no reason not to have one. Now let's say you have one -- and this is Palm, this is the Palm 5, nice little unit here. Let's say you have this, you know, you write on the screen the way we were by making letters in a format called "graffiti," and it changes its text on the screen. Let's say you don't want to do that; you want hook it up to a keyboard and actually type onto it.

But the keyboard is big. You don't cant carry that with you, right? Look at this. This is called the Stowaway Keyboard. I pop it open, it's the size of a palm until do you this, and then it is becomes a little keyboard, You pull this out here, Set it up like this. In case, the Palm 5 slides right into it and hooks up there, and you type right on your Palm, and when you fold it up, it becomes the size of a Palm.

MANN: This is an amazing thing, because one of problems everyone has using a computer device is that small keyboards make you crazy. CURRAN: Right, and you have small little keyboard you can bring up on here, or you write with what they graffiti, and it recognizes your handwriting, but you can't input a whole lot that way. Your hand gets tired. So here a little keyboard can you take with you. It'll be out in a couple of months, and it will cost only about $100.

ALLEN: So if have you to do minor work on say a laptop and you would be traveling, you could this instead of taking the whole laptop.

CURRAN: Exactly. You could do it all on your palm. And when you're done, you just take it, and you just fold it up, and you just put it away. And it was nice and tiny. Isn't that great.

MANN: You've got that in your hands, and I don't have it. But tell me how sturdy how sturdy does it feel? Because the problem with a lot of these things is your afraid to drop them and lose $100 or $200. It closes up into this very sturdy case. And when you open it, the feel and the touch on the keys is just wonderful. So real neat. It will come out with the Palm name on it, and you'll see it out there for about $100. Really neat.

Now video -- we have some exciting video for you. This is -- here's the video we just shot. This is a little video camera from Sony. It's called the MD Disc Cam. And what it is, is it's a video camera that works by using Mini Discs, and Mini Discs is this format that Sony came up with, a lot of people are familiar with it for audio recording, It's a little disc. All of that video is recorded on this little disc. Now, the power that this gives you, with a camera like this, is that it that it gives you the ability to edit your videos after you take them and their in the camera. You can nonlinear editing within the camera, very much like you do here at CNN on computer-based systems.

ALLEN: So instead of, like, video cameras, you have watch all of the junk. Come a birthday party, you can you just edit it down, and...

CURRAN: As soon as you shoot it, we could take what we just shot of and you, and we could take out different parts of it, and we could bump other parts together, and we could do the editing all right here on the camera. This is just about to ship, about $2,300. It's from Sony, and it's the MD disc Scan.

ALLEN: And if you're still in video, are you in the dark ages? Does everybody need to jump on ahead here?

CURRAN: Well, I think everybody should have video of some sort. As far as -- you've got have video, and I love digital of some sort. Now this is digital video on a disc, but the mini digital video is fantastic. And these cameras have come down so much in size. When you go to Disney World, it's not like you look at the camera on the third day and say, do I have to lug that with me again? You feel safe to take the camera anywhere, because it's so light and small.

MANN: What does it look like when you get home from Disneyland? CURRAN: Well, with digital video like this, on the disc, or like the mini DVD, it's phenomenal video, and it's also video that you can download into your computer, and you can mess around with it there, and you change it and edit it together.

So this whole -- we're going to see a whole revolution when it comes to desktop video. We have taken what used to be tens of thousands of dollars worth of editing equipment and put it into your computer now. It's a very exciting time.

MANN: Should people be buying this now? The reason I ask this, is video is changing so much. The formats are changing. The prices are going down. It seemed like anyone who brought a video camera two years ago is probably sorry that they did.

CURRAN: Well, you know what, prices do go down on this stuff, because you always pay for the initial research and development that went into it. And until people start buying a lot, prices come down. But you what, the people who bought them two years ago, or in my case, when I bought my digital video camcorder about three or four years ago, I've been enjoying it. So I paid a lot, but I got a lot back out of it.

So I think it's always nice to, once you know the technology is going to be around, jump on the bandwagon and get it, because it's really wonderful.

ALLEN: I'm not one of those, but I will be after this segment, I'm sure.

We're going to take a quick break. We're going to continue.

What are we going to start with when we come back?

MANN: When we come back, we're going to show some new types of DVD, digital video discs, the hottest-selling product ever in consumer electronics.

ALLEN: All right. Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: The Betamax VCR debuted in 1975, and it set consumers back almost $1,300. You can now buy a VHS recorder for less than $100.


MANN: Welcome back.

The three of us and the three of them -- three boxes of electronics that are going to change the way you watch television, I guess.

Ed Curran, tell us about that.

CURRAN: Absolutely, yes. You know, digital video disk has been changing the way we watch television already. These are little disks that look like audio CDs, in fact, I have a disk over here. They look like audio CDs, and you just pop them in the machine and you watch a motion picture. And what's great, just like audio CDs, is that you don't have tape running across a head. You get beautiful video quality. You have instant access to parts of the movie, and that type of thing.

Well, digital video disk has become the hottest-selling consumer electronics product ever. This year alone -- well, during 1999 -- it is estimated about three and a half million units were sold, which was just astounding. So this has really caught on. People love it.

ALLEN: Does that mean people are tossing out their VCRs?

CURRAN: No, because your VCR still records. So these are great for watching movies, though. And since you can go to your local place and rent DVDs to watch, as well as buy them, it makes it easy. You go there, rent them, and watch them on your DVD player.

ALLEN: So I still have to figure out how to record on my VCR.

CURRAN: We will have to work on that. We will drag you into the '70s, don't worry.

ALLEN: Thanks.

CURRAN: This is cool, because it gives you such a great video image. Now, there are a couple of different ways that you can create a video image. People watching us on televisions at home right now are watching an image that is scanned a couple of times, 30 frames per second. It is called interlaced. And it makes the picture kind of flash very rapidly, and there are some problems with it. That's why high-definition television is so great.

Well, a computer screen draws things up in rapid succession without doing that interlacing, and it gives you a much brighter, clearer picture at about 60 frames a second. That is called progressive scan. This unit here is a DVD unit that has just hit the market from Toshiba, the first unit on the market that does progressive scan. Which is what DVDs are made in anyway -- they convert it for your regular TV set.

So as people start to get digital televisions and the ability to look back at this progressive scan, they will be able to get a machine like this one from Toshiba, play back these movies, and see them at -- its called 480P, 480 lines progressive. And it is just a beautiful picture. So that is one of the futures of DVD, is -- people are excited about it. Here's one of the latest things you can get, progressive scan DVD, and this one from Toshiba.

Now, people always ask me -- and I know where you are going because, you know, you got the VCR -- and you're wondering with DVD I just watch movies, right? What else can I do with the movies? Right here -- and this came to us from Asia on its way to the consumer electronics show, so we are very lucky to have it here -- it's from Samsung, and it records DVDs. Hopefully we'll see these by the end of the year, maybe by September, a unit like this where you'll be able to take a DVD disk, and you'll be able to put it in and actually record things on here. So for the first time you'll be able to record DVDs.

There is a little bit of a format war going on about what kind of units we are going to see. This is called DVD-RAM. There will be others, and they will shake out by the end of the year.

MANN: Let me just ask you this quick question: What are we going to pay for this, and that?

CURRAN: You know, I think with the recordable unit you're talking a couple thousand dollars, and with the progressive you are talking around a thousand dollars right now. But probably about a couple of thousand dollars for a stand-alone unit like this, that will record DVDs. But real exciting to be able to finally record in this format as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if we start to see camcorders that have some sort of DVD within them that we can record on.

MANN: Let me ask you about compatibility. We are going to move from the televisions we have now to high-definition television.


MANN: Can we make the change owning these machines?

CURRAN: Absolutely, because this is -- because DVDs are recorded in this progressive scan kind of format. That's what digital TVs like to see. So even though what is coming off of there right now is not high definition, and you will probably see that in the future on DVDs, certainly that will -- we will see that at the consumer electronics show, and we've already seen a demo of that sort of thing playing back high definition. But this 480 progressive put into digital set to many people is very close to high definition. It looks just gorgeous. It's fantastic.

ALLEN: All right, let's move on to...

CURRAN: OK, let's move on to audio.

ALLEN: ... something new.

CURRAN: How's that?


CURRAN: Audio?

This, on the end here, is a DVD player, but it plays DVD movies, but its real purpose is to play DVD audio, a brand-new format we'll see by the end of 2000. DVD audio are albums, instead of being recorded on CDs, they are being recording on DVD. And because of the greater amount of information we can put on there, you have full- fidelity surround sound. It is fantastic sounding. This unit from Panasonic will play both your DVD movies as well as music DVDs, and it sounds great. So we will see that by the end of the year as well.

MANN: So everyone who went out and threw out their albums and bought CDs now has the prospect of doing it again?

CURRAN: Well, you know, you have to get the latest stuff.

Here's a neat thing from Command Audio. It is a unit that picks up audio out of the air and gives you time-delay radio programs and other things. So if there is a particular program you want, in other words, I can go in here and I can choose "Nightline." It takes it out of the air, it stores it here, and when I'm able to listen to it I can play it back and listen to "Nightline." It is a very neat system from Command Audio. And...


ANNOUNCER: From BBC news...


CURRAN: ... just one of the programs they have on there. They have...

MANN: You could listen to a CNN program even if you wanted to.

CURRAN: That's right, if they had carried that on here.

MANN: Set the record straight on that.

CURRAN: Exactly.

ALLEN: You can get cable on that.

CURRAN: You can get a lot of different things on here that they allow you listen to it when you have time to.

ALLEN: So people that are commuting, have a long commute, can sit there and listen to TV programs in their car.

CURRAN: And radio programs, mostly radio programs in here.


CURRAN: But you can throw it on the seat of your car, it shows up wirelessly on your car radio. Listen there. So real neat.

This is the Radio WebCaster, about $150. It takes radio stations off of the Internet, off of your computer, and sends them wirelessly to your radio, where you want to listen to radio programs. Just take this little unit, hook it up to the computer, use this remote control, and you can switch stations on your computer, which is back up in the office or whatever, and listen to them on your radio. About $150, really cool stuff.

Now, here's another kind of audio item out there. This is this the Sphere (ph) OmniPlayer. And I'm just going to start it up here so we can see something. This little unit -- you have heard all about MP3, right? Play these high-quality...

MANN: Oh yes, we have, sure.

CURRAN: You get high-quality...

MANN: She won't stop talking about it.

CURRAN: You get high-quality audio off of the Internet, and store them on these little units that you take with you and listen to your music.

ALLEN: Right.

CURRAN: But you can pull your music off the Internet.

Now, this little guy gets MP3, but also has the flexibility to get other audio formats as well. It's called the OmniPlayer because you will be able to pop off the face of this, and in the future be able to put on a thing to do cell phone calls, or global positioning satellite stuff. It can be the base for many different units. Sells for about $200. Their first run of them sold out like that at Christmas time. But it is neat because it digitally records MP3 and other audio as well and stores them in this unit, and then you listen through little ear phones, and you go jogging with it or whatever. And it is a neat way to do audio.

MANN: How much does it hold? How much time can you actually be listening to what you recorded?

CURRAN: It all depends how many memory cards you have in here. It has a 32-megabyte memory card in here, and if you do MP3 that's about half an hour, but you can put more memory in. And if you do their other digital recording formats, it will do about, I guess, an hour and a half or so on here. So you can store a lot.

ALLEN: I mean, how much of my time does it take when I want to switch out everything?

CURRAN: Well, you know, you download a bunch of songs into here, it doesn't take very much time at all. No, it is all being digitally transferred, and it is really a cool format. Plus, no moving parts. You are listening off these flash memory cards that are in here.

Now, speaking of MP3, the people at Ericsson got a bright idea. They said, let's take an MP3 player and hook it up to a cell phone. The tiny unit here is the MP3 player. This is the whole thing. You want to see the memory card? Look at this. Tiny little memory card goes in here, plugs onto the cellular telephone. This will be available later in the year. Listen to your MP3 without having to carry two gadgets with you. Just got your cell phone, hook up the MP3 to it, and it is using part of the guts of your cell phone to run it. Isn't that a bright idea?

ALLEN: That is. And I was just thinking, you have to have a carrying case for all your gadgets these days.

CURRAN: Now, let's...

MANN: Deep pockets and a lot of batteries so far.

CURRAN: Now, remember we showed the keyboard for the Palm?

ALLEN: Right.

CURRAN: Well, you know, on many of these cell phones now you can get on the Internet and get information, but you have to input what you need and that can be cumbersome using the keys to input information and everything. This is Ericsson's phone, and we've put on it a tiny keyboard. So you put this keyboard right on the bottom of the telephone, like that, when you need it. Type away and send your messages without having to go through the cumbersome task of entering it by using the regular keys on the phone.

ALLEN: Use your pinkie to hit all those.


MANN: Can you see the size of that keyboard compared to his fingers as you are watching?

CURRAN: Hey, believe me, it is better than the alternative. It was trying to tap it out into your regular touchtone keys out here.

We have got some other cellular products I'll show you, including one you can wear on your wrist.

ALLEN: That's the one we've been talking about, you're right.

MANN: That's our favorite, yes.

ALLEN: We'll take a break, and we'll have a little more right after this.


MANN: We're here with Ed Curran, "the Gadget Guy."

And while we're talking gadget guys are getting spoiled. During the commercial break, one of the people you don't normally see, one of the talented people, Mike Schuller (ph), our producer here, ran up and said, these boxes are so big. How come they still package these in such enormous crates?

ALLEN: Good question.

CURRAN: That's a good question. You know, if you think of the components you have at home, what size are they? They're all this size, right? So you want to buy something that's this size, unless you have a mini system. Now you can go out and buy a DVD player like the Panasonic little portable DVD player with the flip-up screen, and that's great to take on the road. You can bring it home, and put it on your shelf and use the little remote control, and it's going to give you a picture just like these big guys.

ALLEN: So they're this just because it's what we're used to? CURRAN: I, you know, a lot of these -- you could fit a lot of these in much smaller boxes, but they're not going to fit with the other stuff you have. You notice the trend in color...

MANN: If you're a gadget guy, you can't impress other gadget guys unless they can see the technology from a distance. That's the crucial thing here.

CURRAN: That's right. That's right. You know, I don't want to pay for that, it's not big enough. You know, give me a bigger one.

And notice the color trend, by the way, all this platinum kind of stuff. You've seen a lot of this lately.

ALLEN: I like it.

CURRAN: It's very nice, instead of the black boxes.

This is a neat little cellular phone. You know, 911 on your cellular phone is a free telephone call. You take a cell phone and you hit 911, you will get through to somebody at 911 on an analog cellular phone system. This is called Mobile 911. And Mobile 911 does two things. Number one, if you get in an emergency situation, you can press these two buttons. It'll send out an ear-piercing signal for help.

MANN: Is that annoying you at home?

CURRAN: But here's the other thing. Flip it open, it does one thing, guys, calls 911. That's it. It has batteries in there that are alkaline, so they last a long time. You throw this in your purse or in the glove box, you forget about it. When you need help, you've got it -- 911. If you're in an analog cell phone area, you will be answered by a 911 operator who will help you.

MANN: Monthly fee with that?

CURRAN: No, that's the cool thing. Couple of hundred bucks for the phone, Mobile 911, on the Internet. But you're not paying monthly fees or anything. But what a great thing for kids to have, elderly people, anybody have really. You know, cell phones are a wonderful safety device.

MANN: And a lot of people get them only to be able to do that.

ALLEN: For that very reason.

CURRAN: Exactly. And this is the only thing this one does, get you through to help.

MANN: And give you that neat alarm, if you need it.

ALLEN: Put that in your gadget bag with all your other stuff.

CURRAN: Right. Now that's a nice little phone. We saw a nice little cellular phone. But take a look at this little cellular phone from Motorola. This is a phone -- it's a wristwatch that is actually a cellular telephone. Now this is a working concept model by Motorola. And on the back of it, there's a big battery here. And what you do is you have a cord attached so you can wear it on your wrist.

You can put this up in your ear, and you have a little microphone attached, and you can talk on the phone. It does voice dialing. So if I have you in here and I say your name, it'll dial you automatically. It does all of that. It'll vibrate on your wrist to tell you have a call.

Now If you don't want to wear this all the time and you just want to wear the phone, you can do that as well. Wear it on your wrist like this. If you get a phone call, all you have to do is reach down, press one little button. It immediately comes apart. You see this? You say, hello.

MANN: I can remember a long time ago, there was a television program about someone who used to do that with his shoe, and no one believed it would ever happen. But here it is, and it has.

CURRAN: You know, if you want to develop in the next few days the shoe-phone, I'll take it to the Consumer Electronics Show for you and see if there's a market for it.


CURRAN: There may be a market for it. They had a rotary dial, too.

ALLEN: This is really amazing. I mean, this could cut down on the car incidents we're having with people talking on their phone, if just you're wrist are vibrating.

CURRAN: It'll be on your writs, and you've got an earphone to your ear. And you know, if you do use the phone in the car, use a hands-free device. And there are dialing devices that will dial with your voice. Use that, because that's where the distraction comes in, when you're looking down at what's on the screen and you're dialing.

MANN: Have we talked about dialing this?

CURRAN: About dialing with your voice. Just say the name, it'll dial. And you can dial by numbers, too, you can input numbers with your voice. It's really incredible. But it's a concept right now from Motorola so that they can check the functionality, see how well it works, how well people receive it and that type of thing, and...

ALLEN: It looks kind of manly, if I can must say, from an aesthetic point.

CURRAN: Maybe they'll bring it down in size for you and dress it up a little bit. But right now, it's just a concept, but it works. If we took this into an area that had the service this works on, this would make phone calls for us. It's really remarkable. ALLEN: Of all these things, Ed, which are you most excited about, as far as where way gadgetry is going? Is it the Internet in your phone?

CURRAN: There are so many things. I mean, the Internet is very exciting with all the stuff we're going to see from the Internet. Internet will not be accessed by the big computers we have now. We'll have little appliances that will access the Internet in different ways. You'll be able to access the Internet on our little hand-held PDAs, like we showed with the Hands Spring Vision. That's so exciting to go wireless. Everything is wireless. And some of it based around our current cell phones that we have.

If you take a cell phone that you can link to the Internet and put on that little keyboard or dial with your voice or write with your voice. Very exciting stuff. And that's some of what we'll show tomorrow as well, being able to speak with your voice and input data, have your computer understand what you're saying.

ALLEN: We'll see you tomorrow. And don't forget that robotic vacuum cleaner you're bringing in tomorrow.

CURRAN: We'll show lot, a robotic vacuum cleaner, and a lawn mower.

ALLEN: OK, sounds good. Thanks.


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