Forget the Web, Start-Ups Get Real

A long-shunned Silicon Valley technology sector — consumer-electronics start-ups — is showing some surprising signs of life.

Entrepreneurs in California have quietly launched dozens of small hardware companies, designing everything from smart wristwatches to digital thermostats. The typical business plan: raise enough money to create prototypes in the U.S. that can be manufactured in Asia and sold online.

These consumer-electronics makers are attracting new interest as some of the Internet frenzy abates following spotty performances by newly public Web companies like Facebook Inc. and Zynga Inc.

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