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LAS VEGAS – Ushering in an array of technology that you never knew you needed but can't live without, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is about more than the newest smartphones and biggest, skinniest televisions. The giant tech show also introduces innovative new tools for the workplace, changing the way companies get things done.
We've combed the exhibit floors looking for the tech that would appeal most to business users. Here are four tools we think may rock your business' world this year:
1. Transcribe meetings in an instant. If there's one thing worse than endless meetings, it's having to transcribe them from an audio recording. Australia-based Dev-Audio Microcone is a multi-directional desktop microphone that not only records speech but can discern the voices of six different people. Its Microcone Recorder software records the conversations on individual tracks and automatically reduces the background noise. An accompanying smartphone app allows users to tag parts of the conversation for easy reference later. Price: $359
2. A better way to brainstorm. One way to brainstorm an issue is to pump related terms into a search engine and see what pops up. Another way is to talk it out with your peers. MindMeld by San Francisco-based Expect Labs combines these two in an intuitive iPad app that runs group voice chats for up to eight people and automatically searches for keywords that are spoken. Expect Labs says MindMeld should be available for download in a few months. Expected Price: $1
3. Android in the office. Wish your smartphone screen was much larger? The VSD220 Smart Display from Walnut, Calif.-based ViewSonic is a 22-inch multi-touch LED screen that -- get this -- runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. But plug your computer into the HDMI port and you've got double the compatibility (Android and whatever your system runs) behind one pane of glass. It also comes with stereo speakers, a 1.3 megapixel webcam, and 1920 x 1080 full HD resolution. Price: $420
4. A 'key' to remembering passwords. The more services we sign up for, the more passwords we have to keep straight. And as small businesses have become the biggest target for hackers, making those codes hard to crack has become more important than ever. The Arkami ID Key is a USB-connected stick that connects to a cloud-based password management program. With fingerprint-activation it ensures that only you can access your data, and if someone else tries, unsuccessfully, to use it multiple times, the content automatically deletes.
Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Arkami also embedded the key with voice recognition, so it can hear what you're looking for (simply say "Passport Number" or "Gmail Password") and display the info on the built-in screen. Small enough to fit on a keychain but with 16 GB of data to carry other files, it should be a must-have to keep your business secure. It is expected to start shipping in the second quarter of 2013. Pre-Order Price: $80