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WHAT'S HOT

February 06, 2003|By Mike Himowitz

Boldly go into room and command lights

Sometimes I run across a gadget that's wonderfully geeky and even moderately useful - such as the IntelaVoice Lamp Dimmer from VOS Systems.

Plug this sleek, white $35 module into a wall outlet, then plug a lamp into the dimmer. Now you can select three lighting levels or turn the lamp off just by talking to it.

Like I said, geeky, but a good idea for people who walk into a dark house with arms full of groceries, or who want to turn lights on and off as they walk from one room to another.

Whoever designed the dimmer watched too many Star Trek reruns, because to get the module's attention, you have say the word "Computer," just like Captain Kirk. When the gadget chirps back, you can issue the high, medium, low or off command.

My wife had a different take: "It's like talking to Tinker Bell," she said. Like everyone who tried it, she got a few laughs and was amazed that it worked.

The IntelaVoice dimmer has two modes. The default is speaker independent, which means it will recognize any voice. You also can train it to recognize only your voice, which also allows you to choose the activation word (something other than "Computer"). In that mode, however, your voice will only turn the lamp on and off - no dimming.

As the instruction manual predicted, the IntelaVoice dimmer worked best in a quiet environment. It did not function well at a New Year's Eve party with a dozen rowdies barking at it. But by that point, I wasn't functioning very well either.

If you're willing to part with $80, VOS will be happy to sell you a serialized Star Trek Voice Interface Module that not only controls a lamp, but also responds to commands in the actual voice of the Enterprise computer.

Is anybody that geeky?

Information: 800-596-0061 or www.vossystems.com.

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