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The Goods | TECHNOWATCH

Now Computers Can Read Your Body Language

June 04, 1996|LYNN SIMROSS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Rejoice, computer game players. Here comes ZON, a game controller that enables users to issue commands through body movements--moving their hands, kicking, jumping--instead of using a joystick.

ZON (rhymes with phone), which will be released in August from Perception Systems of Sherman Oaks, uses sensor technology that converts body language into a signal that the computer will understand. The ZON is a 4-by-4-inch box designed to sit on the desktop, monitor or anywhere else in cable's length of the game screen. The unit "sees" movement within a cone-shaped zone, and has special lights that flash to warn the user if he or she is moving out of the sensor's reach.

Perception Systems reps say ZON ($98) works with all available game systems and PCs. To purchase call Perception Systems at (818) 907-6068.

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Small Change: As the personal computer industry expands, each new device promises a step up in sophistication. Take a look at Sharp's new Zaurus models of keyboard-enhanced personal digital assistants, computers the size of a paperback book. They're preloaded with expanded communications software to PCs, including access to CompuServe Companion, AT&T Mail and Pager Access. Users can operate Zauruses with either a pen or the keyboard.

Models ZR-5800 ($649) and ZR-5800FX ($729) have a backlight on the screen that makes it much easier to read in low-light environments, such as airplanes or darkened cars. The backlight also has a programmed, timed shut-off feature.

This month Sharp is introducing color versions of Zaurus in Japan. No release date has been set for the U.S. For more information call (800) BE-SHARP.

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A Surge of Interest: Next month Duracell, which introduced the first on-package battery tester in 1990, comes out with PowerCheck batteries, the first alkaline ones with testers located right on the body of the batteries. Just by pushing tiny green dots on the side and bottom of a battery, you can check its remaining power level.

First to hit the market will be the AA size ($1.99 for a two-pack; $2.99 for four). AAA, C and D sizes of PowerCheck batteries will be available next year.

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