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CES: Beyond the Clapper

At almost every CES, at least one vendor shows a hands-free technology for switching on lights, controlling the TV set, playing video games and the like by just waving or pointing figures into space.

They were good for a laugh (away from the booths, of course) but didn't amount to much of anything.

Finally, Lightglove -- a small company in Cathapin, Va., -- might have gotten it right. With an infrared device on his wrist resembling a thick watch, Bruce Howard of the company was able to mime playing a piano and a laptop responded by playing Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (Howard didn't have to be an expert pianist -- the software on the screen was from a "Guitar Hero" type of game that does not need musicianship). Howard also played an on-screen pinball game and said that the device could be programmed to do things around the house.

Sounded like a high-tech Clapper for people too lazy to clap.

Howard laughed, but he has heard it all before.

"We might think it's silly, but think about what this could do for elder care, for people who have trouble with a remote control," he said, "or even dialing the phone." 

Clap on.

-- David Colker

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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