February 22, 2004

Product watch

In today's paper, I read articles on two new products that got me excited. Two new types of product, really.

The first was a little handheld Wheel of Fortune game. No great shakes, right? What makes it awesome is that if you turn it on during a WoF broadcast, subtle variations in the brightness signal transmit information to the handheld unit, and let you play along. This toy is at the vanguard of a whole bunch of new units that will receive information from the TV to control their behaviour. Most of the others listed were children's show tie-ins of various sorts. Let me know when they have one for Jeopardy (not that I watch it that often anyway...). Of course, why I should get so excited over a handheld device that offers less than a website can, I don't know, but it's still cool.

The second major type of product is more of a style of marketing that's on the rise. A lot of smaller, family-owned farms, trying to compete with Big Agribusiness, are starting to market direct to consumers and to independent supermarkets. If I buy Tolley Farms Pork (soon Beef too), I know that it was raised on a farm just east of Galesburg; if I'm curious I can talk to the farmers and visit to see the conditions. If you buy Illinois Crown Beef at various small supermarkets in the Chicago area, you'll know that that animal was raised at one of eight farms here in western Illinois. It's really a neat way to do business and eat meat responsibly. Depending on the specific arrangement, it can even be cheaper than the meat you buy now, that's gone through several middlemen (and how long did that take...?) before getting to your freezer.

"Each person is responsible for carrying his or her own shielding and mopping device. It is called a handkerchief. (Miss Manners has heard tell that there is an ersatz version of this in paper, which she reluctantly supposes would also accomplish the job.)" --Miss Manners

Posted by blahedo at 2:01pm on 22 Feb 2004
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