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Five Ideas to Watch

...including robots for hospitals and bad news for the jet set
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1. Designated Drivers for Hire

Start-ups in several major cities will pick up drunk folks and deposit them and their cars safe at home. The rentable sober drivers ride scooters that are collapsable, so that they fit into car trunks. Most charge $2 per mile on top of an initial fee of $10 to $15. "There's a drinking-and-driving problem everywhere and we offer the best real solution for it," says Gary Calnan, who co-owns NightRiders in Boulder, Colo.

2. Robo Docs

Dr. Yulun Wang believes that robots are the answer to a looming doctor shortage. His firm, InTouch Health in Santa Barbara, Calif., recently tested machines dubbed RP-6s in a handful of top hospitals. The M.D.'s liked them because they could check in with patients by monitor, if not in person. And in surveys, patients also praised the 5-foot-tall machines because, Wang says, the RP-6s enabled them to stick with one doctor even if he or she split time between two hospitals.

3. Gulfstream Dreams Can Stall a Company

Execs who zip around on corporate jets are bad news. So says David Yermack, of New York University's business school. Studying data for more than 200 public companies over a decade, Yer-mack found that companies that were obliged to disclose junkets on corporate jets lagged their market benchmarks by more than 4% annually. And even if a company had previously beaten market benchmarks, once it reported CEO jet usage, its share price fell by 2% -- and generally never recovered.

4. Bringing the Arcade to the Living Room

Gamers have always sought out jolting, lifelike video games in arcades, but now they're looking for those same thrills at home, in new chair consoles. Ultimate Game Chair in Antioch, Calif., sells a luxe leather captain's chair with a built-in joystick and speakers for $750. At $200, the vibrating Intensor LX chair from EDimensional in West Palm Beach, Fla., is more affordable -- but, oddly, it only comes in purple fabric.

5. And the Next Great Athlete Will Be...

...Discovered on Scout.com. The up-and-coming site aims to be the online clearing-house of athletic recruiting news. Parent company Scout Media is based in Seattle and owns 34 magazines devoted to the NFL and college sports. The site augments data from the publishing division with dispatches from 20 paid scouts around the country. In a minor coup, Scout.com was the first place to report the Mike Price strip club scandal.

Last updated: Mar 1, 2005




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