A Clutch Of Cunning Inventions

March 8, 2012 12:00 am

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It's quite a contraption to assemble and manipulate. It has a string-activated shutter trigger, so you don't have to rely on the camera's timer.

Heavier cameras can make the pole sway a little. And, of course, you simply have to guess about the composition of the photo; unless you can make your eyes pop out on stalks like a cartoon character, there's no way to see the screen from your position on the ground. And $230 is a lot for an average camera user to pay for this accessory (although there's a $200 9-foot version, too).

But if you're in one of the Polester niches -- a roof inspector, wedding photographer, real estate agent or creative user of any type -- this rig puts your camera in places where its operator should fear to tread.

IVEE FLEX VOICE-CONTROLLED ALARM CLOCK RADIO ($60). You know Siri, the voice-control feature of the iPhone 4S? One of her greatest tricks is reducing the number of steps for setting the phone's alarm. You can say "wake me in 45 minutes," or "set my alarm for 7:30," or whatever -- and it's done.

Now you don't need a fancy phone to do that trick. This simple, big digits, plastic alarm clock is voice-controlled. You can set the time or set the two alarms, check the time or date, choose an alarm sound, turn on a falling-asleep sound (ocean or brook, for example), set a timer or change settings -- all by voice.

The best part is that the clock is always listening; you don't have to touch a button first. From up to 10 feet away, you say "Hello, Ivee" to get her attention. She says, "Yes?" or "Command, please." Then you say your piece: "Set alarm 1." A female British voice says, "Please tell me the time you would like Alarm 1 to sound." You say, "7:35 a.m." or whatever.

Now, Ivee is no Siri. That "Hello, Ivee" business gets old fast. You can speak only when she's not speaking. She sometimes responds, erroneously, to random conversation. And it would be nice to be able to set the alarm with a single utterance instead of two ("Set alarm 2 for 8 a.m."). But her recognition accuracy is 100 percent, the commands are logical and speaking sure beats fussing around with reverse/fast-forward buttons on any other alarm clock.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:01:36

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