For Father's Day, retailer Brookstone is pushing glowing orbs and beacons from Ambient Devices in Massachusetts. The gadgets change color with the weather or the Dow (e.g., red = your stocks are up; blue = find a ledge). Ambient's David Rose hopes that soon, "people will have a dozen in their house, just like clocks." Maybe, but at $149 to $179, these mood ring updates are pricey.
Gateway is now offering a biometric fingerprint sensor on its popular 450+ notebook computer. The scanner, embedded in the PC's palm-rest, can remember fingerprints for multiple users -- and can cross-reference them with various passwords, so you can instantly log on to secure websites such as your bank's. Gateway positions the innovation not just as a security measure, but also as a cost savings. A recent Gartner study, the company notes, found that 40% of all help desk calls stem from locked-out users. The notebook starts at $1,800.
Choosing among the 2,000+ franchise opportunities in the U.S. is a daunting task, which is the reason for Jeff Johnson's FranSurvey.com. The firm polls all the franchisees within a system (with the blessing of the franchisor), on issues ranging from return on investment to the helpfulness of field reps. After surveying at least 75% of the franchisees, Johnson compiles the data into a $75 report, which judges if a concept is "profitable, proven, and tested," he says.
A musical instrument elicits "an odd, emotional attachment," says Todd French, no matter if it's a Stradivarius or a ten-buck ukulele. Which is why the L.A. Opera cellist created ISIS, a company that embeds microchips carrying owner information in instruments. The lifetime registration fee: $30.
For people who pretend to be kosher just to get a decent meal on a plane: A company called Alpha D'Lish has partnered with Virgin Express to offer in-flight gourmet fare such as sushi and sesame noodle salad. Customers may place orders online up to 48 hours before departure at alphadlish.com. Meals, ranging from $7 to $18, are delivered to your seat in-flight, the box unfolds into a tray, and kids meals come with games. Alpha D'Lish is considering expanding to other airlines, perhaps through franchising.
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