7 wacky products you missed at CES 2011

From scent-replication devices to miniature candy, CES had its share of unexpected announcements

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Citi ThankYou Prestige 2G credit card
Citi ThankYou Prestige 2G credit card Credit card terms and rewards have become more and more complicated over the years, and the cards have followed suit. First, magnetic strips were added for electronic transactions. Then small chips showed up in some cards so that consumers could wave their plastic in the general direction of a reader to make a transaction, rather than having to swipe it.

Credit card terms and rewards have become more and more complicated over the years, and the cards have followed suit. First, magnetic strips were added for electronic transactions. Then small chips showed up in some cards so that consumers could wave their plastic in the general direction of a reader to make a transaction, rather than having to swipe it.

A company called Dynamics has joined forces with Citi to create a new breed of credit card. The Citi ThankYou Prestige 2G Card is built on Dynamics' Card 2.0 platform, and it features two buttons on the front. By pressing the Regular Credit button, users can pay for a purchase with credit as they normally would. Alternatively, they can press the Request Rewards button, allowing them to redeem points or cash rewards when the card is swiped. (Pressing a button activates a corresponding light to confirm the selected option.)

This innovation will no doubt simplify reward-point and cash-reward redemptions -- so as long as the cardholder is keeping a running tab of his or her redemption points and cash rewards, as well as where they can be used and on what sort of purchases. Then again, the cardholder may press the Request Rewards button each time and hope for the best.

Dynamics Card 2.0 technology was named the Best of Innovations Winner for Personal Electronics award at CES, and it's pretty cool. Among the features available to banks and credit card companies for use in ther own cards are buttons for selecting which account -- say, checking or credit -- you want to access when swiping your card. Another feature requires a user to enter a PIN code to display the credit card number, making it less useful to thieves.

Reese's Minis
Hershey decided that CES 2011 was the perfect venue to unveil its Reese's Minis, "the smallest Reese's peanut butter cups ever." Electronics have gotten smaller. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups have gotten smaller. So they go together! Get it? Note: Feasting on too many handfuls of these nano-candies has an enlarging effect on the user's physique.

ZoomSafer for Android beta
You might be a smartphone addict if you're fully aware of the dangers of "distracted driving" -- that is, driving while texting or chatting on your phone -- but can't bring yourself to turn off your device when you get behind the wheel. A company called ZoomSafer unveiled at CES a software client for the Android OS that can help.

When you start driving, the software kicks in, triggered by in-vehicle telematics, Bluetooth systems, and phone-based GPS services. Once enabled, the software disables emailing and texting. Also, users can set policies to, for example, send an autoreply alerting people that you can't respond because you're driving. You can also set the software to enable hands-free phone calls -- which is just as dangerous as taking a non-hands-free call, just more legal.

The Android client is in beta and available for download from the ZoomSafer site. There's also a BlackBerry version on the market.

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