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A Different Kind of Pop-Up: Create Replicas of Your IM Contacts

As fans of instant messaging know, IM buddies or co-workers go dim when they step away from their computer for a few minutes. One company lets you design miniature replicas of your IM contacts that actually stand at attention when friends log on and collapse when they leave again. (They sort of look like those Playskool family characters your kids love so much.)

They're called Availabots, and Shulze & Webb, a London design firm, says it is currently beta testing 10 prototypes. Check out for more information. We love that you can design them to look like your favorite pals -- or least popular co-worker!

Anne McCrory is editorial director of CIO Decisions and the CIO Decisions conference. Write to her at

This was last published in December 2006

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