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Fictional Gadgets Come To Life

It takes a while for a great idea to go from imagination to actual use in the real world, but it happens a lot! Three fictional gadgets made real were in the news just this past week.

Terminator Vision

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The Terminator had a computer in his head, with a display readout he could read in his eyes. Several gadgets come close to doing this for humans, so far only while wearing glasses. The latest is the retinal imaging display (RID) from Brother Industries in Japan.

The new RID prototype attaches to a basic set of spectacles and works by focusing light onto the retina, moving it at high speeds to generate images that look like they exist right in front of the user. Too bad the source box is freaking enormous.

Brother plans to launch the product in 2010.

Wrist Communicator

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Dick Tracy spoke into a two-way wrist radio beginning in 1946. A TV was added later. Starting today, you can order the Van Der Led WM2, which is a wristwatch with the functions you'd expect -clock, calendar, alarm, calculator, plus a cellphone with a touchscreen display, bluetooth, USB data transmission, hands-free speaker, MP3 and MP4 storage, etc etc, and it works with all providers in countries all over the world. Dick Tracy never had those kinds of features! And with a wrist phone, you don't have to fumble through your purse or pockets for a ringing phone, or wonder where you last set it down. The cost: €300 or $471. It goes great with a yellow overcoat.

Suit of Strength

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Iron Man hits theaters on May 2nd. The character is super strong because of his suit of iron. You should also remember the exoskeleton used in Alien. The real-life version is the work of software engineer Rex Jameson and his robotics company Sarcos. The XOS Exoskeleton moves well and gives the wearer superhuman strength. Sensors in the suit transmit information to a computer and coordinates its moves, so the wearer experiences no lag and no fatigue. The XOS takes up somewhat more room than Iron Man's suit, but is a lot smaller than the contraption in Alien -with as much strength and more features. Jameson is now working under a $10 million US military grant. See a video of the XOS in action.

No word yet on that time machine.

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How to Remove Dents From Your Car Without Doing Further Damage
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Car dents aren't pretty, and DIY methods for getting rid of them can leave entirely new eyesores in their place. In The Know Innovation has spotted a tool that erases unsightly dents without damaging your vehicle's paint job—no trip to the auto body shop required.

The Sealey RE101 Air Suction Dent Puller is a tool that attaches to your vehicle. To use it, stick the suction cup over the dented area and and open the air valve on the handle to seal it tight. A few pumps of the slide hammer are enough to restore your car to its original, dent-free glory.

There are plenty of at-home remedies out there for minor car dents, some of which involve boiling water, hair dryers, and dry ice. While it's always best to get your car looked at by a professional after any type of accident, especially if the damage is covered by your insurance, a dent puller at least won't do any additional harm to your vehicle (or your hands).

You can order a Sealey Dent Puller of your own online for $166.

[h/t In The Know Innovation]

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Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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