DEMO - Gadgets and gizmos add spark to DemoFall

Von Ephraim Schwartz

What would Demo Fall 05, the now bi-annual conference for the introduction of new products and servers, be if it didn"t have its share of gadgets and gizmos to entertain the audience of high-tech investors?

This year"s event was no different.

United Keys Inc. unveiled the 205 Pro, a PC keyboard with small LCD displays embedded in the tops of each function key.

The LCDs use an "image converter" to display any changes to the keyboard"s function keys. The point being the graphics become a reminder to forgetful users of what function can be accessed by each key.

United Keyboard CEO Ronald Brown pointed out that Microsoft alone has 950 different keyboard macros.

The image converter makes its changes by converting any image to hexadecimal code. Images can also be dragged and dropped into place.

Realm Systems Inc. unearthed and brought back to life an idea whose day may finally come: the small form factor mobile desktop. Only this time Realm CEO Rick White calls it a mobile server.

Plugging into any USB port, users can carry with them their entire desktop look and feel, applications, files, and customized favorites in a device about the size of a pack of cigarettes -- for those who remember what that looks like.

The Mobile Personal Server, otherwise known as the MPS 1400E, is just that, a full-blown server that requires users to authenticate themselves before loading its applications -- or projecting the applications, as White said -- onto another device. For the few people who actually own a Tablet PC, Active Word Systems has a nifty software utility program that allows users to quickly access Web sites and applications with a mere stroke or two of the stylus.

The ActiveWords InkPad box pops up anywhere and anytime you like on the screen and allows a user to write in NYT, for example, and the system will take them to The New York Times Web site. A quick scrawl of the word Excel will, of course, launch that Microsoft Office product.

Previously ActiveWords was only available for non-touchscreen-capable devices.

Finally, Rudy Prince, CEO, founder, and serial presenter at Demo shows, was back again with another useful product from his Always On Wireless company.

The WiFlyer+V is a VoIP system that combines a Wi-Fi router, VoIP adapter, and modem that can convert any phone into a VoIP phone and allow even dial-up users to access VoIP technology.

The WiFlyer device comes with a unique VoIP phone number and works anywhere there is a Wi-Fi network in play. It simply plugs into the wall and into a standard telephone jack. A standard phone can be used both as a VoIP and regular landline device. It comes with two data ports and a USB port.

Unlimited service plan is set at US$12.95 per month for the U.S. and Canada.