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Photos: Cool gizmos on display

The Cool Products Expo at Stanford showcases novel products from a solar car to a high-tech sled.
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1 of 9 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Cyclone chamber

The Cool Products Expo at Stanford University on Wednesday showcased a range of novel products.

Here, the cyclone chamber from a Dyson vacuum cleaner. The chamber swirls around, and the centrifugal force pushes dirt out of the way of the suction. James Dyson came up with the idea after seeing an industrial wood chipper, sort of like those things they used to dispose of bodies with in the movie "Fargo."

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Small Dyson

A small Dyson with a telescopic handle. The company sells this model in Japan. It doesn't have an on-off switch that you step on because Japanese consumers don't like to turn things off with their feet.

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Dialing up Dyson

When Japanese consumers have a problem with the small Dyson vacuum cleaner, they dial customer support and put the phone up to the grill in the picture. The vacuum then provides its information to customer support.

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Sewer Snake

The Sewer Snake, the reigning heavyweight champion in battle bots, is made by Team Plumbcrazy, run by a husband and wife. The six-wheel design prevents other battle bots from getting underneath the vehicle and flipping it over. The Sewer Snake is a lifter/flipper, which means it incapacitates opponents by flipping them and preventing them from moving. In the U.K., crushers that try to pulverize opponents, are more popular.

"We look at battle bots sort of as rock, paper scissors," said Matt Maxham of Team Plumbcrazy.

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Space elevator

Pictured is part of the support structure for the space elevator. The space elevator is a proposed structure which, ideally, will keep a huge space station tethered to the Earth by a ribbon of carbon nanotubes. While the idea of the space elevator has been criticized by many, proponents say it's a test vehicle to show how carbon nanotubes will one day be used in the construction of bridges and/or buildings.

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Oliso iron

The Oliso Touch&Glide iron contains a pressure sensor in the handle. When you release your hand, the legs pop up to prevent the iron from burning anything. It sells for $89 at Fry's.

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7 of 9 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Airboard

The Airboard is an inflated sled. The difference between it and an inner tube is a series of grooves on the bottom that allow you to carve turns. A person can travel as fast as a skier or snowboader, according to the company.

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Captain Avalanche

The Stanford solar car. It won the stock category (for solar cars built out of standard parts) in the collegiate solar challenge. It can go up to 75 mph.

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9 of 9 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Stanford solar car

Dan Levy, who worked for years in Silicon Valley as a marketing exec, doesn't ski and used to get incredibly bored on family ski vacations. So he started Captain Avalanche, which specializes in high-tech sleds. The sleds can go up to 50 mph and make sharper turns than normal sleds. The sleds come with a foot brake, too. Ultimately, the price should come down to around $149 to $199, he said.

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