`SWIMMAN,' AND OTHER NEW WAVES IN CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
CHICAGO — A ``home service robot'' was the undisputed star of the 1991 International Summer Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded here last week. Samsung's dome-shaped Scout-About looks like the top of R2D2 from ``Star Wars.'' It roams about easily over carpeted floors and won't bump into furniture or fall down stairs.
Designed as a sentry, the 15-pound robot uses ultrasonic, infrared, and other sensors to guard a residence when the occupants are away. Sustained temperature extremes, movement, or the sound of breaking glass trigger its siren and prompt it to dial for help. Samsung hopes to find a way to avoid identifying pets as intruders by next February, when the $1,000 Scout-About reaches the market.
A tunerless telecaption decoder is coming next fall for $130. Decoders add subtitles to closed-captioned television programs for the hearing-impaired. But in recent years, 40 percent of sales of the more expensive current model have been to immigrants who use it to improve their English, say officials of the National Captioning Institute, which distributes the product to retailers.
The Swimman, a $150 submersible cassette player for windsurfers and lap-swimmers, was introduced by Datawave of (where else?) California.
Cinema Products, also of the Golden State, demonstrated its $595 Steadicam Jr., which takes the jitters out of hand-held home videos. Doc-Tech International's $40 Antenna Eliminator gets the rabbit ears off of your television set by turning your home's electric wiring into a giant antenna.
In the gag department, a rubber hammer emits the pre-recorded sound of a shattering windowpane when tapped against an object. Just don't thump a Scout-About with it.