By  on January 12, 2005

Built-in Fan Base
Wei-Chieh Tu, an industrial design graduate student at Pratt, was inspired to create a shoe with a transformable heel height while shopping with his wife, Chia Hung. She longed for a pair of the high heels she saw, but couldn’t justify spending $300 or $400 on something she could wear for only a few hours each day. He tried several approaches before coming up with this one, based on an old-fashioned handheld fan. The prototype is plastic, but the real thing would be made of stronger stuff, possibly a high-tech material such as titanium, he said. The button in the back adjusts the heel height from zero to 38 degrees. Two buttons in the front are pivot points for the heels. Tu is patenting his invention, but hasn’t yet decided what he will do when he graduates later this year. However, his e-mail box has been full, especially around Christmas, with messages from people who want to know where they can buy a pair.

Filofax for the Wrist
OK, it doesn’t come in a variety of hides and a rainbow of colors — yet — but this personal organizer can be worn on the wrist, and its oversized square face with round edges has a sweetly simple retro-futuristic appeal that would go over well in Tokyo’s Shibuya district or the set of “Lost in Space.” The Fossil Wrist PDA FX2008 is based on the Palm operating system, and like the familiar handheld models, it tells the wearer the date and time and also includes a to-do list, address book and appointment calendar, among other features. The Wrist PDA syncs with PCs, Macs and Palm Pilots and is available from Fossil or Tiger Direct for $200 to $250.

Wired on the Slopes
Burton Snowboards, which created a ski jacket wired for sound at the push of a mitten last year, is expanding beyond the iPod with another jacket, helmet and hat that also hook up to any Bluetooth-enabled cell phone. While this should make it easier for skiers to meet up for lunch or a drink after a day on the slopes — and for lift operators to check in with mom — we hope the company’s new partnership with Motorola won’t make skiers feel obliged to take conference calls between black diamond runs. The three products will be available in August, said a Burton spokeswoman, and the insides of the helmet and beanie can be removed and used as a stereo headset. Prices have yet to be determined, but Burton’s existing Amp jacket for the iPod retails for $380. Now all skiers need is a jacket that will work with any Mp3 player.Tag, You’re It
At the National Retail Federation’s annual show next week in New York, retailers will get a taste of their own medicine. Attendee badges will come equipped with radio frequency identification tags, which will be scanned by readers in key locations, such as the entrance to the exhibition hall. The reason? To see who visits what part of the show, for marketing purposes.

“We’re hoping this works in our favor,” said Susan Newman, vice president of conferences for the association. “We’d love to be able to say that 90 percent of management went into the exhibition hall for some period of time.”

Are you listening, ceo’s? The experiment will also gauge retailers’ personal comfort level with the technology, which has raised concerns about privacy among lawmakers and citizens’ groups. So far, slightly more than 50 percent of preregistrants have opted in. Those who register at the show will receive their badges without tags, which will be available in a separate area.

But those who forgo the chips may miss out: At the Xo5 booth (the name stands for “Exploration ’05”), a mock-up of a bookstore, attendees with smart badges can try auto self-checkout — or theft, if they prefer. If attendees exit a security demo with “unpaid” merchandise (in this case, dummy books made of cardboard), a red light flashes and a list of the suspect items appears on a nearby computer screen. Smart shelves will also register when an item is removed, and attendees can call up information about an item on a screen when they bring it into a “hot spot.”

Digital Tailor
A Cornell university professor has created a helpful guide for anyone who wants to know what’s going on in the world of 3D scanning. The Web site, which can be found at explore.cornell.edu, describes how 3D scanners are changing fit in ready-to-wear, making it possible to try on clothes virtually online, and bringing us closer to the day when we will be able to purchase inexpensive clothing that’s been mass produced yet customized to fit our bodies. In her own research, associate professor Susan Ashdown is creating a model process that clothing companies can use to refine their products’ fit to satisfy a greater number of women in their target market. So far, Ashdown has scanned body sizes and shapes of customers for a leading manufacturer of better women’s clothing, then scanned the customers again while they’re wearing the company’s best-fitting pants to find discrepancies and make recommendations for improvements.Tag, You’re It
At the National Retail Federation’s annual show next week in New York, retailers will get a taste of their own medicine. Attendee badges will come equipped with radio frequency identification tags, which will be scanned by readers in key locations, such as the entrance to the exhibition hall. The reason? To see who visits what part of the show, for marketing purposes.

“We’re hoping this works in our favor,” said Susan Newman, vice president of conferences for the association. “We’d love to be able to say that 90 percent of management went into the exhibition hall for some period of time.”

Are you listening, ceo’s? The experiment will also gauge retailers’ personal comfort level with the technology, which has raised concerns about privacy among lawmakers and citizens’ groups. So far, slightly more than 50 percent of preregistrants have opted in. Those who register at the show will receive their badges without tags, which will be available in a separate area.

But those who forgo the chips may miss out: At the Xo5 booth (the name stands for “Exploration ’05”), a mock-up of a bookstore, attendees with smart badges can try auto self-checkout — or theft, if they prefer. If attendees exit a security demo with “unpaid” merchandise (in this case, dummy books made of cardboard), a red light flashes and a list of the suspect items appears on a nearby computer screen. Smart shelves will also register when an item is removed, and attendees can call up information about an item on a screen when they bring it into a “hot spot.”

Digital Tailor
A Cornell university professor has created a helpful guide for anyone who wants to know what’s going on in the world of 3D scanning. The Web site, which can be found at explore.cornell.edu, describes how 3D scanners are changing fit in ready-to-wear, making it possible to try on clothes virtually online, and bringing us closer to the day when we will be able to purchase inexpensive clothing that’s been mass produced yet customized to fit our bodies. In her own research, associate professor Susan Ashdown is creating a model process that clothing companies can use to refine their products’ fit to satisfy a greater number of women in their target market. So far, Ashdown has scanned body sizes and shapes of customers for a leading manufacturer of better women’s clothing, then scanned the customers again while they’re wearing the company’s best-fitting pants to find discrepancies and make recommendations for improvements.

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