Cutting-Edge Tech Products Enhance Productivity for Agents and Insurers

By Ara C. Trembly

In the age of the Information Highway, it seems we cant open a magazine, turn on the television, or even switch on the radio without some company telling us about some new high-tech gizmo that can make our lives better and help us do business more efficiently.

In an effort to cut through the clutter, weve selected several of these gadgets to highlight here. We chose these particular gadgets for a variety of reasons: because theyre on the technological cutting edge, or because theyre unusual, or because they could help your business processes–or because we just thought they were cool.

With that disclaimer, here are some interesting gizmos:

InkLink Digital Writing Tool. Scratch paper, stray envelopes, the backs of business cards, cocktail napkins–seems we have a hundred different places to scribble quick notes, but when it comes to finding that information again, its like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Seiko Instruments USA Inc. of Torrance, Calif., has come up with a solution to that problem that lets you scribble notes on almost any kind of paper and electronically store the information for later retrieval.

The product, which supports Palm, Pocket PC and Windows operating systems, transforms handwritten notes and drawings into an electronic format, says Seiko.

“InkLink is a pocket-sized digital device that allows users to go with their natural instinct to hand-write notes, then convert these notes into a digital format that is stored on the users computer or PDA,” the company explains. With dimensions of 7.6-in. x 2.9-in. x 14-in. and a weight of just 4.75 ounces, the device is highly portable.

According to Seiko, as users write with the InkLink pen, handwritten notes and drawings are transferred to a personal digital assistant (PDA) via the IrDA Transceiver (included), or onto a laptop or PC via a USB (universal serial bus) port.

“InkLinks proprietary software, InkNote Manager, gives users the freedom to cut, copy, paste, e-mail and store handwritten notes in digital form,” the company notes. The device can be used with any size paper up to legal size (8.5-in. x 14-in.).

InkLink is powered by three standard 1.5-volt button batteries (included) and one AAA battery (included), says Seiko. It is compatible with computers running Microsoft Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4.0 or XP, and requires a CD-ROM drive and a minimum of 32MB RAM. Requirements for handheld users are CE 3.0 (Pocket PC 2000) or Palm OS version 3.1 or higher, and 1MB available memory.

Suggested retail price is $99.95. Information is available at www.seikosmart.com.

CD Media Eraser. Insurance is a business that thrives on data, but keeping that data confidential can be a challenge. Its not unheard of for corporate spies and thieves to comb a companys garbage for potentially useful–and often sensitive–information. Or, someone could simply walk out of the building with such information on a disc. Thats an exposure that risk-averse insurance companies and agents cant afford to take lightly.

When it comes to getting rid of sensitive information on CDs, Westboro, Mass.-based Security Engineered Machinery offers a solution with its Model 1200 CD Media Eraser and Declassification System. The company says the system “offers quick, efficient removal of all data from commercially produced CD-ROMs and writeable/re-writeable CD-R, CD-RW, WORM CDs and DVDs.”

The Model 1200 utilizes a micro-machining technique that completely removes data-bearing surfaces in 20 seconds, “with the safest possible method of optical media destruction,” the company states. The device employs an automatic declassification cycle once a disc has been inserted, with the option of residual dust collection via a passive drawer or a vacuum attachment.

“Because the micro-machining process leaves inner disk hubs intact, the remaining disc can be identified as absolute proof of destruction, eliminating the need for detailed logs and witnesses in applications where certification of destruction is required,” the company notes.

The company says the system is certified by the Department of Defense and National Security Agency for all security levels, providing assured destruction of data. At a price of $5,000 to $6,500, depending on options, such assurance doesnt come cheaply. But then a big-money lawsuit over revelation of sensitive information wont come cheaply either.

Information is available at www.semshred.com.

Device-Toting Jacket. If you like to take your business on the road, you know how inconvenient it can be to drag along all those cool portable devices. Of course, you could just put everything in a big suitcase, but that wouldnt be very handy if, say, your cellphone started ringing inside that locked compartment.

SCOTTeVEST Version 2.0a special jacket “designed to carry, conceal and connect every and any tech gadget from PDAs to cellphones to MP3 players”–aims to solve that problem, according to Chicago-based scottevest.com.

The 17-pocket jacket features a “hidden conduit system” that allows the wearer to connect wires to and from multiple electronic gadgets, the company explains. Wires are kept in place by hidden Velcro tabs in the lining.

According to scottevest.com, special pockets accommodate digital cameras, portable keyboards, GPS devices, small laptop computers, two-way radios, and other devices and accessories.

“It makes security at airports much quicker–just put your [jacket] through the x-ray instead of removing (and turning on/off) all of your electronic devices,” the company notes.

The jackets design also lets users operate their devices “hands-fee,” the company says. A loop in the collar is designed to hold ear pieces in place, “so when the phone rings, all you have to do is insert the ear piece and press talk.” The pockets are also specifically designed so users can “feel” their ringing phones vibrating, notes scottevest.com.

Sizes range from XS to XXXL, and the sleeves can be zipped off and stored in a back pocket for wearing in warmer weather, the company said. The jacket is priced at $129.99. Information is available at www.scottevest.com.

Travel Surge Protector. Youve probably already thought about protecting your sensitive electronic office equipment from power spikes and surges, but what happens when you take your devices on the road? Chances are, the power youll tap into in hotel rooms, clients homes or banquet halls is just as dirty as the power that comes to your office.

The Universal Travel Surge Protector from Compton, Calif.-based Belkin, protects laptop computers and other equipment from harmful surges and spikes “in any country throughout the world,” says its maker. The unit features automatic multi-voltage (120V-240V) protection, over-current detection for phone-line pulse signals, and a 6-foot retractable phone cord.

According to Belkin, the Universal Travel Surge Protector also offers a $75,000 connected equipment and data recovery warranty. The unit sells online for $35.99. Details are available at www.belkin.com.

Notebook Computer Security Alarm. Todays notebook computers are light, convenient, powerful–and easy to steal. Unlike their bulkier desktop cousins, notebook computers are easily plucked off a restaurant table or airline seat, or out of a carrying case or backpack, then just as easily concealed by the thief for getaway.

To help make the thiefs task more formidable, Targus Inc., based in Anaheim, Calif., offers the Targus DEFCON 1 Ultra Notebook Security Alarm. The unit combines a stainless steel cable with motion sensor technology and a 95-decibel alarm in a locking system that attaches to a notebook computer.

According to the company, the alarm system easily attaches to a carrying case, luggage or any notebook that has a security lock slot. The four-digit re-settable combination dial–which allows up to 10,000 possible combinations–makes the system difficult for a thief to disarm.

The steel cable retracts into a plastic housing at the press of a button and a flashing LED indicates alarm status, says Targus. The combination lock controls the alarm, as well as access to the battery door and motion sensor. The siren is activated when the cable is severed and when the motion sensor is armed and triggered.

According to Targus, the system uses three AAA batteries that last approximately three months. The alarm sells for $49.99 online. Information is available at www.targus.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, October 21, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.