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Once a joke, belt phones, pen phones and wristwatch phones are now a reality.
Max Smart had a headboard phone and a bedpost phone that he used in various episodes that showed his high-tech bedroom. We found a hands-free Bluetooth pillow for lying in bed and talking on the phone. Dubbed the perCusion, this device was shown at the 2007 CeBit show. It's supposed to be available for purchase in 2008.
Wallet phones have been available in Japan for four years. These mobile phones have built-in debit cards that allow users to pay for items with cash or conduct other transactions such as buying movie tickets and train passes. The latest versions also feature cameras, radios and MP3 players. As convenient as they are, wallet phones aren't expected to reach a critical mass until 2012.
Bulky phone pens are available today, such as Haier's P7 Pen Phone, and even smaller pen phones are on the horizon. One engineering feat -- a mobile phone pen only 8.7 inches long -- is still on the drawing boards.
A mobile phone/microscope combo is under development for use in telemedicine applications. The system would allow health workers in remote areas to capture microscope-quality images of diseases and transmit them to medical facilities for analysis. University students taking lab courses may find this prototype microscope add-on for their mobile phones handy.
A patent has been granted for a steering-wheel mounted mobile phone that operates similar to the one in Get Smart: The device that looks safer is a mobile phone holder for your seatbelt. With either gee-whiz device, it'll be a challenge for drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
Several companies offer wristwatch mobile phones for men and women, including CECT; iCell; and IMobile. Available in waterproof, sports and office models, they cost between US$150 and $200. Very cool!
This device is retro and modern at the same time. It's a pocket watch with a computer inside that lets you check your voice mail, e-mail and text messages. What's missing from the one Max Smart used in the 1960s era TV show? A full-featured phone.
Agent 86 used a phone hidden in his car cigarette lighter in the episode, "Our Man in Toyland." You can buy a Bluetooth hands-free that plugs into the car cigarette lighter for around US$70. And it's commonplace to recharge your mobile phone with your car's cigarette lighter. Who says life doesn't imitate TV?
One of the running gags in the hit '60s TV show Get Smart was the crazy telephones used by Maxwell Smart, aka Agent 86. Tucked inside ties, combs, eyeglasses, ice cream cones and, of course, shoes, phones were always ringing at the most inconvenient times for the bumbling spy. With the upcoming release of the movie version of Get Smart, we decided to see how many of these once-futuristic phones are available.
Max Smart's shoe phone is infamous. To see how popular it is, just look at the contest YouTube is running for people to submit their funniest shoe-phone videos. While real shoe phones are unrealistic, there is a high-heeled novelty shoe phone that you can buy today in one of five colors -- perfect for any outfit. You can also get a sneaker phone for a more casual look.
In an episode of Get Smart entitled "Satan Place," Agent 86 uses several hidden phones in one scene, including a belt phone. Last year, NEC unveiled a leather belt with a built-in mobile phone at the Wireless Japan 2007 Expo. Only thing odder looking than using this gadget would be lending it to someone else.