LAS VEGAS ( TheStreet) -- If the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show is any indication, 2011 might just be the year for small-businesses technologies.While there's always fun and games at CES, most of the headlines coming out of this massive show in the high desert focus on big-time innovations from big-time companies: new 4G tablets and smartphones from Verizon ( VZ) and Motorola ( MOT), improvements in flexible displays from Samsung and what I consider to be the first solid glasses-free 3-D TV prototypes from Toshiba. But the real news for small business is in less well known and -- dare we say it -- less flashy tools. These products may not get the media love, but they can help a real business achieve real gains in productivity.
|An attendee uses Iron Will Innovations' glove game controller with a video game at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.|
Adding credit card scanners to smartphones is all the rage. With so much buzz around such tools as Square and MerchantAnywhere, it's no wonder transactional giant Intuit jumped into the market. The company announced an interesting Apple ( AAPL) iPhone 4 app for its mobile GoPayment system. The downloadable app supports direct interface with the Mophie add-on credit card scanner, as well as smooth access to Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software, used by roughly 4 million firms in the U.S. At least at first blush, the system makes it easier for small firms to offer credit card transactions. The interface is well laid out and allows for vendors to easily swipe a credit card and negotiate a transaction on several credit card payment networks. Now for sure, GoPayment will not replace a legitimate credit card point-of-sale terminal: Dealing with the iPhone's issues -- turning the device on, getting the proper software running and generally getting it out of consumer mode and into business mode -- will drive even a moderately high-volume retailer nuts. But for occasional limited use, like a sidewalk sale or charity event, this intriguing product offers a handy way to accept a credit card. Nuance Communications FlexT9 Mobile Input App ( NUAN) ($5)
For all of us who spend our lives answering emails and text messages on our smartphones, here's a better way to interface with your virtual keyboard: a keyboard tracing technology called FlexT9, rolled out by Nuance, the maker of Dragon Naturally Speaking voice-recognition tools. This downloadable app competes with other sketch-based, data-entry tools such as Swype, and lets users trace the path between letters on a virtual keyboard to quickly sketch out words and sentences. In my initial testing, FlexT9 worked well. It was accurate, fast and easy to use. If you are struggling with a pile of email, texts and chats on your smartphone, give the FlexT9 a try.