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Published: Saturday, 1/21/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

‘Smart’ credit cards can switch identities

NEW YORK TIMES NEW SERVICE

Tiny computers can act as credit cards that offer more control over payments.

Dynamics has been manufacturing “smarter” credit cards that can take on multiple identities. Each card contains a miniature, flexible circuit board, a battery, and a programmable magnetic strip.

One version allows a user to press a button on the card to reconfigure the magnetic strip in order to choose between a checking or a savings account.

Another version, tailored to businesses that need tighter security, has five buttons. Press a personal unlock combination, and digital numbers will appear on the card to complete the credit card number; the magnetic strip is written with the information of the credit account.

When the card turns off, the numbers disappear, and the magnetic strip is erased.

“We are trying to be a technology innovation arm for an industry where that’s never happened,” said Jeffrey Mullen, chief executive of Dynamics.

Citibank already is offering a version of the technology that allows card owners to choose between paying with credit or rewards points.

A phone cover designed to be kind to the thumbs

The case maker Speck has introduced an iPhone cover that is supposedly kind to the thumbs.

The new CandyShell Grip is an iPhone case designed with gamers in mind, adding soft-finned grips so that Doodle Jump fiends and Angry Bird fanatics won’t suffer thumb cramps and finger fatigue no matter how many levels they clear.

The case is made of a glossy hard polycarbonate shell with a rubber lining to protect the phone from knocks. That same soft rubber is placed strategically where thumbs and fingers rest when hard at play.

The raised fins also allow ventilation in case the action is intense enough to moisten your grip.

The case comes in black, yellow, red, and white and is available through Speck for $35.

While the case might help your game, there is no guarantee that it will save you from the dreaded BlackBerry Thumb, so you might want to put the games away once in a while, no matter how comfortable your fingers might feel.

Push a button to make your eyeglasses stronger

At the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas you can even find electronics in glasses. PixelOptics is demonstrating eyeglasses in which an electronic current is passed through liquid crystals to change the prescription on the fly.

Called the emPower line, the glasses are frames with progressive lenses with three focusing zones. Only two zones work at a time, eliminating problems some progressive lens wearers experience when the upper and lower prescriptions interfere with the middle. (It’s called “swim.”)

When the wearer touches the temple of the emPower glasses frame, the lower portion gets added magnification for close-up reading. The glasses also can be set to automatically turn on the magnification when the wearer’s head moves down, as when reading, then turn off when the user’s gaze returns to level.

Batteries in the earpieces are charged on an inductance stand. While the batteries can be replaced, most people’s prescriptions probably will change before the batteries wear out.

But the price might leave you cross-eyed. They sell for around $1,200 to $1,500.

An android phone with longer battery life, at the price of more girth

The most nagging complaint from people who own Android phones has been short battery life. The reason? The phone’s ability to run apps in the background drains battery life.

A new version of Motorola’s Droid Razr, introduced at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, tries to address that with a battery that the company says can burn for 21 hours.

The phone is called the Droid Razr Maxx. It looks like the regular Droid Razr except that at 8.99 millimeters thick, it is a tiny bit heftier than the previous model. The slight difference in thickness allows for a much more powerful 3300 milliamp battery.

Other than that difference, the device has the same 4.3-inch Super Amoled as its little brother and dual-core 1.2 GHz processor. It can also receive the speedy 4G LTE signal. It runs Android’s Gingerbread operating system.

Like most phones today, it has Wi-Fi, GPS, stereo Bluetooth and an 8-megapixel camera that can capture video in high definition.

There is 11.5 gigabytes of internal memory, and a 16-gigabyte microSD card is included. The phone will be priced at $300 through Verizon with a two-year contract.



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