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New Gadgets...Massaging Chair...Cleaner Air

Techstination feature for Monday, August 25, 2003

Can electronic gadgets popular in Asia... win customers in the U.S.? Bloomberg Boot Camp... a report on today's technology. Gadgets that are popular with Japanese consumers... aren't always a hit here. When it comes to electronic massage chairs... Panasonic's Dan Silver says American consumers have been buying about 70 thousand a year...

"The marketplace in Japan which has about half our population, is ten times larger. So they sell in a month, what I can sell in a year." Why is that? "I think it's an appreciation of first of all, massage as part of your life."

Panasonic is hoping to change the minds of consumers here with new models priced in the fifteen hundred dollar range that will arrive in the U.S. this fall. Sharp Electronics is looking to build the market in the U.S... for what it calls its Plasmacluster air purifiers. Sharp's Art McKinnon says technology is based on 120 patents. They have the capability to automatically detect and eliminate odors. Sharp has found a big market in Asia... where there are still more smokers and homes tend to be smaller. But American consumers, McKinnon says, are catching on...

"For this year, we're expecting about five million units to be sold, and over the last three years it's been steadily rising. Consumers are generally concerned about indoor air quality."

In this country, the main competition comes from air purifiers sold by Sharper Image stores. Pricing starts at about four hundred dollars. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.