Technology Trends Best In Consumer Electronics
Over 140,000 people arrived in mass for the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the annual showcase for revealing cutting edge and emerging technology and the companies that produce it. Tech watchers can always count on the gathering as a harbinger of the year’s biggest stories. Last year’s show featured duo-core laptops and hybrid hard drives with flash memory components, both of which were top technology items for the year.
The Big Winners
This year’s Best in Show is the LG BH100 Super Multi-Blue Player, the first DVD player capable of playing both Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats. In fact, the primary reason for the award seems to be this crossover capability, which many view as the first step toward compromise in this incipient digital dichotomy that brings back painful memories of the VHS/Beta fiasco of the 1980s. That format feud significantly slowed the early stages of development in video technology, and electronics buffs the world over are hoping that a repeat performance can be avoided in the new century. Clearly a dual-format player does not solve all the problems (e.g., getting stuck with disks of one format when its rival eventually wins out and future players support only the survivor). However, to an electronics community eager for any encouraging sign, the BH100 exudes enough hope to win CES’s top billing.
The People’s Voice Award, voted on by CES attendees, goes to a collaborative effort between Microsoft and Ford Motor Company known simply as “Sync.” It is a fully integrated flash memory driven communications and entertainment system for the automobile that provides unprecedented hands free operation via voice commands and steering-wheel mounted controls. An always-on Bluetooth connection allows hands free calling from up to 12 different phones and will import numbers from cell phone and PDA directories. Audio files from MP3 players and other mobile devices can be accessed through an onboard USB port, enabling voice command selection of an album, genre, or even individual track. Both business and pleasure will be more easily and safely conducted, thanks to the Microsoft/Ford partnership. This latest and best example of convergence technology will be available on 12 of Ford’s 2008 models and on the entire 2009 fleet.
Two category award winners are worthy of note for their implications on near future technology. The winner in Computers and Hardware is Microsoft Windows Vista, the highly touted successor to XP. Why is a software package winning the hardware award? Because the CES was virtually overrun with new hardware offerings made possible by Vista’s cutting-edge features. For example, Vista’s touch-screen capabilities are incorporated into the HP TouchSmart PC, an all-in-one family machine selling for just under $1800, and the Asus SideShow laptop offers a 2.8 inch LCD screen on its lid, utilizing Vista’s SlideShow software to access email, appointments calendar, music, pictures, and many other features even when the computer is powered off.
Powercast wins the Emerging Technology award for its new line of radio frequency transmitters and receivers that can recharge or directly power wireless devices, completely eliminating the need for tethered power sources. Powercast is targeting PC peripherals as its initial emphasis, but cell phones, PDAs, MP3s, etc. will not be far behind. Cable free desks, work stations, and carry-on luggage are now more than a pipe dream.
Here’s an overview other award winners.
Dash Navigation Dash Express
Wireless capable MP3 Player
Wireless Plasma TV
While many have primarily home entertainment applications, all are ripe with implications for future business and professional technology.