It was perhaps inevitable that Honda, with experience in safety technology and motorcycle design, would be the first to introduce a motorcycle air bag commercially. If crash sensors mounted on the front fork detect an impact, a computer quickly decides whether to deploy the bag. Honda Gold Wings will offer air bags as early as this spring.
E-mail can be read only when a laptop is open, right? Microsoft's proposed solution is SideShow. Laptop makers are planning to design small screens on the outer body so you can read incoming messages or choose music without opening the case. SideShow will be supported by the Windows Vista operating system, launching this year.
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has a radar-guided park-assist option too, as well as a "night view assist." By shining invisible headlight- mounted infrared beams up to 500 ft. ahead of the car, it can display a black-and-white nightscope view on the dashboard.
2007 S550 available this month; $85,400.
Some camcorders have ditched the tape, relying instead on internal memory. Others capture high-definition video for playback on big-screen TVs. Sanyo put both innovations into its Xacti HD1, which also features a next-generation organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display.
This month; $800.
Bluetooth Virtual Keyboard
Soft Hardware. You may have heard about the jacket with iPod controls stitched to the sleeve. Eleksen, the maker of "electroconductive" fabric products, now wants to introduce a qwerty keyboard that you can roll up and put in your pocket. The ElekTex keyboard will use Bluetooth technology to connect wirelessly to PDAs and smart phones.
June 2006; $150.
Fly coach, and the dream of watching movies on your laptop quickly fades, thanks to the reclining seat in front of you. Intel's new laptop design lets you pull the screen forward from behind the keyboard and even raise the screen to eye level. Elements of the design may appear this year in laptops priced at $1,100 and higher made by Intel partners.
Samsung's SGH-P300 is slimmer than Motorola's Razr. Its thickness is slightly less than 9 mm. It looks like a pocket calculator, but it's a tri-band world phone with a built-in MP3 player and 1.3-megapixel camera with video-recording capability.
Now in Europe, $600 to $700; coming soon to the U.S.
Robosapien maker WowWee Robotics teamed up with Philips to build the Smart Companion Operating Technology. SCOTY (pronounced Scotty) is a camera- and Wi-Fi—equipped butler who sits in your living room, obeying voice commands to play specific music, read new e-mail and even report intruders.
September 2006; $400.
Blue is cold, red is hot—any kid knows that. So Delta developed the Brizo bath faucet, which uses lighting to change the water color depending on the temperature; it prevents children and the elderly from accidental scalding. The electronic faucet can be turned off or on with a touch, or with a wave of the hand.
Available within two years; $300 to $500.