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Next Year’s Gadgetry on Display at Consumer Electronics Show

June 3, 1991

CHICAGO (AP) _ A compact disc that navigates a driver through unfamiliar cities and a car radio that changes stations on voice command are among the high-tech gadgets manufacturers are hoping consumers can’t live without.

For those who need information now, there is the electronic encylopedia, small enough to be held by hand. For those who don’t want to leave their home unguarded, there is ″Scoutabout,″ a robot that prowls the house in search of burglars.

Those items and much more are on display at the 1991 International Summer Consumer Electronics Show, which runs through Tuesday at McCormick Place.

About 55,000 people, mostly advertising representatives and potential buyers, are expected to attend the four-day show in which more than 1,000 companies are involved, said Electronic Industries Association spokeswoman Cynthia Upson.

″What you see is electronics on the go,″ she said. ″One of the things the industry does best is take large objects and transform them into small ones, things you can carry with you, use in your car.″

Car-related items seem to be particularly popular this year.

There is the Travelpilot navigation system, designed to get a driver with a limited sense of direction from one point to another through the use of a compact disc, wheel-mounted sensors, a compass and maps.

The driver programs Travelpilot with his departure and destination points and then follows his progress on a map displayed on a 4 1/2 -inch dashboard- mounted screen.

″I think it’s ideal for someone who’s always getting lost, like me,″ said Ross Merel, owner of Slam Group Ltd., a Chicago company that sells audio equipment.

Manufactured by Blaupunkt-Bosch Telecom of Broadview, Ill., Travelpilot’s suggested retail price is $3,495. It is already available in the West with compact discs containing maps of such cities as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas. It is to be introduced in the Midwest in the months ahead.

Sanyo Fisher (USA) Corp. of Los Angeles says it will soon be offering U.S. consumers a voice-activated car stereo for $1,499. The stereo, with radio and tape deck, is already available in Japan.

It allows a driver to remove a tape casette by simply saying ″eject″ and to tune to a particular radio station by reciting its call letters.

″I see it as a really good safety device for people always taking their eyes off the road and fidgeting with the radio,″ said Grady E. Purches, a sales representative for Montgomery Ward & Co.

Franklin Electronic Publishers Inc. of Mount Holly, N.J., has introduced a hand-held, electronic encyclopedia that is to be listed in the July issue of The Sharper Image Catalog. The suggested retail price is $399.

The encyclopedia, which is 7 inches long, 4 inches wide, one inch thick and runs on batteries, resembles a calculator with a small screen.

Samsung Electronics America Inc., based in Saddle Brook, N.J., is offering the Scoutabout, a 15.5-pound home robot that looks like the top half of a hamburger bun. It should be in stores next year at a retail price of about $1,000, said Samsung marketing manager Jon Lezon.

The Scoutabout moves around the house looking for unwanted intruders. When it sees one it contacts authorities by phone.

It has one shortcoming, however. It doesn’t climb stairs.

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