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Hot For The Holidays: 3-D Avatars, Gardening Gadgets

Move over, avatars. There's a new technology that allows users to create digital versions of themselves for any number of applications in the online world.


DreamBox Learning K-2 Math adventure game

DreamBox Learning K-2 Math adventure game
(click for larger image)

Move over, avatars. There's a new technology that allows users to create digital versions of themselves for any number of applications in the online world.

BIGstage.com showed off its three-dimensional modeling technology that allows users to upload photos of themselves for video games or to star in their own interactive experiences at Pepcom's technology showcase Thursday night in New York City last week. The technology also allows BIGstage's business partners to draw consumers into virtual experiences online. The potential for the technology seems limitless, with possible applications in the movie industry, beauty and fashion, e-commerce, social networks, and much more.

Co-founder Jonathan Strietzel came up with the idea because he wanted a more realistic version of himself online. Strietzel also used facial recognition technology sought by homeland security experts. Another one of BIGstage's co-founders is Jon Snoddy, founder of the Disney Virtual Reality studio. Snoddy, the CTO of BIGstage, has worked with Lucasfilm, Disney, GameWorks and Steven Spielberg, Timeplay Entertainment, and MyTelescope.com. He designed and developed the Indiana Jones theme park attraction ride and is considered a pioneer in entertainment technology.

The company is marketing the technology to business partners and is currently marketed to consumers as "The Digital You," at no charge. Business partner Vidigreet allows users to put themselves in animated greeting cards, just in time for the holidays.

Another holiday gift idea shown at the Pepcom event was the EasyBloom Plant Sensor. For the gardening geek, the PlantSense device checks temperature, light, moisture, and soil drainage. It plugs into laptops and PCs and the data can be uploaded onto EasyBloom's Web site, where an online database analyzes the information and provides tips for improving plant care. It retails for $59.95. The system can also tell users which plants would grow best in a particular spot. The PlantSense plant library contains information on more than 5,000 plants.

Also in time for the holidays, T-Mobile showed off its new Cameo digital picture frame for camera phones. The frame displays shots sent through multimedia text messages or e-mail messages, in addition to photos transferred through USB or MicroSD cards. It sells for $99 and requires a $10 monthly fee for the mobile connection.

SRS demonstrated its audio processor, which eliminates volume fluctuations between television programs and commercials. Vizio's 55-inch VF550XVTIA LCD HDTV contains SRS's TruVolume technology. The technology has been tested with classical music, and aficionados who want to hear pure sounds can turn off TruVolume with the click of a remote. The Vizio unit with TruVolume is scheduled for sale in January with a suggested retail price of $1,999.99.

DreamBox Learning showed off its Web-based adventure game that teaches math to children in kindergarten and first and second grades. The game was designed with curriculum specifications in mind, and it allows parents to monitor their children's progress. As the players venture through different levels, they learn computational and problem-solving skills. The game DreamBox Learning K-2 Math will launch in January in the home market.

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