Hover chair hopes to rise above economic woes

LONDON Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:25am EDT

The Lounger, a chair that uses powerful magnets to float in the air, in an undated photo. The ''Star Wars'' inspired hover chair, a 125 mph electric motorbike and hi-fi speakers that cost as much as a small house are among the attractions at Britain's biggest gadget show in London this weekend. REUTERS/Stuff magazine/ Handout

The Lounger, a chair that uses powerful magnets to float in the air, in an undated photo. The ''Star Wars'' inspired hover chair, a 125 mph electric motorbike and hi-fi speakers that cost as much as a small house are among the attractions at Britain's biggest gadget show in London this weekend.

Credit: Reuters/Stuff magazine/ Handout

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LONDON (Reuters) - A "Star Wars" inspired hover chair, a 125 mph electric motorbike and hi-fi speakers that cost as much as a small house are among the attractions at Britain's biggest gadget show in London this weekend.

Organizers of Stuff Live hope thousands of visitors will forget their financial worries for a few hours and dream instead about the latest hi-tech toys.

Scores of exhibitors will show off everything from a pocket-sized DJ mixing desk, a solar-powered mobile phone charger and a "robot guitar" that uses tiny motors to tune its own strings.

Among the more unusual items on show is the British-designed Lounger, a chair that uses powerful magnets to float in the air.

Inventor Keith Dixon, of Sussex-based Hoverit Ltd, said he was inspired as a child by the anti-gravity Landspeeder vehicles in the "Star Wars" films.

"The sensation you feel as you lie back and close your eyes is totally different -- like floating on a cloud," said a Stuff Live spokesman. Its 6,000-pound ($9,831) price tag may bring visitors back down to earth with a bump, however.

For those after something less sedate, U.S. company Vectrix has a prototype of a high performance motorbike powered by an electric motor.

The sporty aluminum bike has a top speed of 125 mph, a range of 44 miles and costs nearly 40,000 pounds.

That's cheap compared to another star attraction: a pair of limited edition curvy metal loudspeakers worth 70,000 pounds.

The Muon speakers, made by Kent-based company KEF, are well over six feet tall and have a thick shell of aluminum to minimize vibrations from the four-way speaker system.

KEF describes them as "a truly contemporary art form appropriate for 21st century living."

Computer maker Asus will show off a laptop covered in laminated strips of fast-growing bamboo rather than plastic in an attempt to make it more environmentally sustainable.

* Stuff Live 2008 (www.stufflive.co.uk), organized by the technology and gadget magazine Stuff, runs from Friday to Sunday at the ExCeL center in Docklands.

(Editing by Steve Addison)

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