What you see is what you shoot with Canon's new ES5000 camcorder. It is the first camcorder to feature eye-controlled focus and eye-controlled switches.
Simply look into the viewfinder and whatever your eye sees will be focused on by the camera automatically. A diode in the viewfinder reflects an infrared beam from the pupil of the eye onto a special sensor. Any movement of the eye is detected by the sensor and it will focus the camcorder clear and sharp.
There are three Eye Control user settings, two of which are stored in memory, but may be changed at any time. The third is designated for a guest user or someone who would not be using the camcorder on a regular basis. Canon representatives say the eye focus becomes "increasingly accurate as the camera gains more experience of each user's unique eye characteristics."
Many of the ES5000's functions can be operated without lifting a finger. The camera will respond to a glance at the eye-controlled switch that appears in the viewfinder, as if it knows what you're thinking. You can start or stop recording, display the date or a title on screen, see an instant replay of what you're recording, set the white balance and even apply digital effects.
"The development of Eye Control technology demonstrates the potential of the human-machine interface that is expected in the 21st Century," says Ted Ando, director and general manager of Canon's video division.
Other features of the ES5000 include a 20X optical zoom lens that combines with a digital zooming feature to bring the telephoto range of the camcorder to 40X, a super-high resolution color viewfinder and optical image stabilization.
Suggested retail price for the ES5000 is $2,200.
Special Blue Light: The 911 Emergency Locator System is designed to assist emergency crews responding to 911 calls to your home.
The small box will flash a high intensity blue strobe light from the window of the home automatically when 911 is dialed. It comes with a power cord that plugs into a standard electric outlet and a dual phone jack that hooks up to the unit. The box attaches to the window with a mounting bracket.
The unit ($115, including shipping and handling) can be ordered from Jupiter Pacific Enterprises, 417-B W. Foothill Blvd., Suite 432, Glendora, Calif. 91741; (818) 335-9474.
Keying In on 911: Speaking of 911, Dan Froseth, a "low-tech inventor" from Folsom, has introduced the clever 9-1-1 Touch Keys, self-adhesive, transparent yellow keys that attach to a phone's 9 and 1 keys so you can feel the keys and dial the emergency number even if the power is out or it would be safer to leave the lights off if an intruder is there.
The little key pads have three-dimensional ridges on both sides to provide a distinctive feel. They also would be ideal for people with impaired or limited vision.
The 9-1-1 Touch Keys ($2 per set, plus $1 shipping and handling) can be ordered from Mountain Products, 611 Willow Creek Drive, Folsom, Calif. 95630; (916) 983-8633.