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New electronic doohickeys are hard to resist

Imagine coming home after a rough day to a lighted stove, the right temperature, cozy ambience and relaxing music.

Or decompressing by taking to the mound and pitching a fastball at Barry Bonds on a big-screen sports simulator.

If you have the big bucks, that could all be real.

At the Electronic House Expo that ends today at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, the emphasis this year is on sleek, big and touch-screen automated products that leave home control at your fingertips. You can monitor the teenagers through a surveillance camera or change the thermostat while vacationing half a world away.

For forgetful me, the coolest feature was the software that turns off the stove when you leave the house. A close second was the MoodSeer, a wireless audio system that changes music moods with a small tap on a screen. Alas, I can't afford either.

So what are these manufacturers thinking to launch such goodies at a time when the housing market is dashing into a bottomless pit and some of us are biting our nails over the economy?

"We have to think our customers are recession-proof," said Mark Reiman, vice president of ASI, a Boca Raton audio and video installation company that was showing off the Visual Sports Simulator.

Some, like Rochelle Grubbs, chief operating officer of MoodSeer, are adding a different marketing twist. They are targeting an economic segment one step lower that won't cringe while shelling out a few thousand for an upgraded lifestyle.

"A lot of people are choosing to do that rather than move," she said.

That still ain't me, but it may be a smart move to dig into those deeper pockets now.

Madhusmita Bora can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112

New electronic doohickeys are hard to resist 03/14/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2008 10:39pm]
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