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Touring Exhibit Demonstrates Philips Focus On Simplicity

New York — LED lightbulbs that change intensity and color when touched, a handheld crystal ball that displays photos and home videos, a mirror that doubles as a touch-screen family message center, and a home audio/video system controlled by waving a wand were among the highlights here of a Royal Philips Electronics exhibit that’s on worldwide tour.

Philips brought analysts and press to a cavernous enclosed pier here on the Hudson River to demonstrate current products and working prototypes to communicate the company’s progress in delivering on its “sense and simplicity” brand repositioning, which was announced in September 2004. The products underscore the company’s resolve to deliver “sense and simplicity in everything we make and do,” said chief marketing officer Andrea Ragnetti. The 25 working prototypes at the exhibit could appear in stores in three to five years, he said.

The exhibit featured current products and prototypes from the company’s technology, healthcare and lighting businesses. All were developed with the goal of making technology less complex to use and meet a lifestyle need, the company said. The future products sported intuitive user interfaces, some of which dispensed altogether with buttons and menus.

One button-less prototype, called Momento, is a palm-size glass ball that consumers peer into to view home videos transferred via Bluetooth from a camera-equipped cellphone. When its motion sensor detects someone reaching to pick it up, it begins playing its stored clips. When someone shakes the ball, it skips to the next clip, and the existing clip appears to dissolve away.

The Wand is a rod-shaped handheld remote that users point and wave at a home entertainment system to select and play content. The Wand recognizes the device that it is aimed at and then controls the device through up and down and side-to-side motions. Users wave the Wand vertically to select the type of content they want to enjoy: TV broadcasts, video, digital photographs, or music. Once a media type is selected, users move the Wand horizontally to select, move and reorganize the content within their medium selected. To scroll faster through content, users wave the Wand faster. The Wand can also be waved to control the brightness, color and saturation of LED lights to match the user’s mood.

Menus appear on a flat-screen Vision TV that turns into a mirror when off. It and the Wand are part of the Illusion home-A/V system, which also consists of hard-disk-based media center called Mercury and wall-mounted left-right speaker system called Wave.

Mercury plays music, video and images stored on its built-in hard disk, on PCs elsewhere in the home, and on handheld devices such as cellphones and digital cameras. It also plays content from discs inserted in it. It’s shaped like a rectangular column that stands on the floor or is wall-mounted. Discs eject automatically from the top of the pedestal when someone hold a hand above the slot.

Wave is a narrow fabric-covered speaker system that runs from one end of a couch to the other on on a wall. When activated by pointing the Wand, each end of the Wave “bends” to deliver surround channels to listeners sitting on the couch.

In Touch is a mirror that becomes a touch-screen household message center from which family members can check text, voice, video or picture messages. To leave a message, users touch the mirror with a stylus, and a writing space opens. To record a video message, they touch a blue light in the right-hand corner of the mirror, which turns red, and a video camera embedded in the mirror records the moving image of the personal talking. After creating a message, a person drags and drops it to the picture of the recipient.

Music Explorer is a music-storage and playback system whose handheld touch-screen controls the selection and playback of compressed music files. The touch screen sits on top of a base incorporating speakers, electronics and touch-screen recharger. Users rotate the panel in one of four directions to select one of four major functions: playing discs inserted in the base, scanning and playing Internet radio stations, navigating and playing back stored music files, and downloading new music from the Internet. Users scroll through content by brushing a fingertip lightly over the screen’s surface. Tapping a particular selection lets the user “zoom” into lower level of information. When a particular selection is made, the screen appears to dive deeper into a display star cloud.

So users can see what they’re doing, Philips demonstrated a variety of white-light, high-efficiency LED lightbulbs in unusual shapes and features. One such bulb, dubbed Aurora, is shaped like a suspended lampshade. Light is emitted from LEDs lining its inner surface. The color of the emitted light is selected by a knob that’s turned to take users through the entire spectrum of light.

Another light, called Spectrum, changes color when a user’s finger revolves within about an inch below its rim. Revolving a finger in a full circle around the shade displays the full spectrum of light available.

Chameleon is a floorstanding lamp whose light changes color to match the color of an object placed in front of a sensor. A traditional bulb at the center of the lamp provides white light above and below the lamp, while an LED ring around this light projects a selected color into the shade while preventing the white light from diluting the color being projected.

Tap looks like an old-fashioned bathtub knob that’s turned to scroll through the colors of the rainbow.