Tech Lab Plus

Solar-powered lantern is a bright idea

Luci solar-powered lantern, by Mpowerd Inc.

$15.95 at

Amidst all the flashy, costly gadgets on display at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, none was more impressive than this little device, which generates hours of brilliant light by capturing the power of the sun.

Luci resembles a cylindrical inflatable pillow. It’s flattened out when you rip open its package, and you blow into­ an air valve to fill it up. Inside sits an array of light-emitting diodes that radiate a brilliant blue-white light. A push-button control on the base lets you switch between bright and dim light, as well as a setting that makes Luci rhythmically flash on and off. ­Luci is bright enough to illuminate a small room and makes an excellent reading light.

But what makes this product so special is the array of solar cells on its underside. You charge it simply by turning Luci bottoms-up and placing it in the sun.


A day’s worth of charging generates enough power to provide about six hours of nighttime illumination, according to the manufacturer.

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Luci would make a marvelous lantern for hikers and campers, but its creators have a bigger goal in mind. They hope to distribute Luci lights to people in developing countries, where electric power is unreliable or nonexistent. The company says its goal is the elimination of “energy poverty,” It’s a noble aspiration, backed up with an outstanding new product.

HAPIfork diet-control fork

The HAPIfork reminds you when you’re eating too much.

$99; goes on sale in mid-2013 at

This odd little item from France might just be the most talked-about new gadget at the Consumer Electronics Show. It’s an intelligent fork that’s supposed to gently steer you toward better eating habits.

The HAPIfork contains a motion-detection chip, like the ones used by smartphones to reorient the screen when you tilt it. This time, the chip is programmed to take note of how quickly a diner is eating, by counting how often he raises the fork to his lips.

HAPIfork creator Jacques Lepine holds to the idea that people eat less when they eat more slowly. So his magical fork will gently vibrate in the diner’s hand when he’s shoveling it in too fast. It acts as a constant reminder to slow down and savor every bite.


After the meal, it’s easy to detach the fork from its electronic base for a good washing. Meantime, plug the base of the fork into a computer’s USB port for a summary of how long the meal lasted and how many bites you took. You can use the HAPIfork website or an available smartphone app for iPhones, Android, and Windows Phone devices to keep track of your eating habits.

It’s said that gluttonous diners dig their own graves with a fork. Well, not with this fork.

V3 Click anti-malware device, by AhnLab Inc.

The V3 Click delivers push-button protection against computer viruses.

$39.95 at

Millions of us are too lazy to install software that can protect our computers from viruses and other malware. But if you can plug a cable into your machine’s USB port, you can instantly bolster your PC’s defenses.

AhnLab, a South Korean data security company, has embedded its anti-malware software in a cute little device that resembles the “Easy” button from those TV ads for the office supply retailer Staples.

Just plug it in and the V3 Click does the rest, constantly scanning your computer. When it’s at work, the device emits a blue light; if it runs across toxic software, it glows red. Push the top button and your computer will display information on the threat and what the AhnLab device is doing about it.


You can easily shift the V3 Click from one computer to another, or just leave it plugged into your everyday machine. It will cost you a USB port, but not to worry; the device has two more of its own. Indeed, these ports are ­secured by AhnLab’s software and will inspect any connected drives or devices for malware.

AhnLab has come up with an unusually simple way to defend against malware. People who can’t be bothered to protect their machines are running out of excuses.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at