January, 2011, Las Vegas - It would be easy to get caught up in the thousands, really thousands of things going on in the Las Vegas Convention Center during the CES convention. From smart washing machines to every imaginable accessory for iPods, iPhones, etc. In the past, CES was comprised of computing technology and electronics, merged here and there. Guess what? The computers are gone - they are now built into most devices and those devices are mobile and tiny. Unlike past CES shows, I didn't arrive for the big blast of a beginning, I came for the final two days of the show. It is still very crowded, but I had a better opportunity to browse and do what I wanted with some of the attendees tired or gone after the first few days. I saw some amazing things, many breakthroughs that won't go mainstream or make a difference to most of us for over a year. When they do, you'll be somewhat knowledgeable as to how and why as a result of skimming this posting.
- Intel has successfully incorporated the graphics processor on the main CPU chip of a computer. This is a HUGE leap forward. Nothing processes as fast as elements on the same slab of silicon, now the speed and power you need for graphics and display are directly put on the main brain of the computer. Today your system has a graphics card that has it's own memory, takes up an expansion slot in your machine and must be made compatible to your motherboard. In the soon to be upon us future, no need for this. Memory for the computer will assist graphics and the speed will be incredible. Think super high definition, very fast refresh rates and 3D.
- Heart rate monitor for the iPhone or iPod Touch? Yes... Scosche produces a wristwatch-like band called My Trek that allows you to incorporate the screen and processing power of an "i-Product" to be the readout for your heart rate information. Neat!
- Swiftpoint Mouse device - Because Microsoft designed a two button mouse in the early 90s means we have to keep that shape forever? Not so says Swiftpoint, designer of a GUI pointing device that fits between the pointer finger and thumb and allows for control of your screen cursor as would any mouse. Touted as a tool that won't lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, its ergonometric design fits naturally in your hand and feels like a natural match for computing. Using the little click buttons takes a sec to get used to, but I see this catching on if they can include it with new systems and get it into popular retailers so folks can try it and feel the difference. I still use regular mouse products, but would use this Swiftpoint mouse for my laptop or desktop.
- Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse - I tried this one, too! It's a mouse designed for portable use, it retracts to be a flat wallet-like object when your not using it. This fits easily into your pocket or laptop bag minus the lumpy bulge a regular mouse would deliver. Plus, like the touch pad of a laptop - it has a strip of metallic material that allows you to scroll up and down minus a roller wheel. As tablets become more the norm, my only question is could this product have arrived two years late?
- Logitech wireless solar keyboard - Wireless keyboards are cool, 'til the batteries run low or die. How about one that charges and stores power through two solar panels on its top side? Good idea, but how many of us have an office with a window or compute outdoors? Solved. The solar units are capable of using ANY light, indoors in an office or home! That's a winner.
- Fuseproject Mint - A robotic floor cleaner and vacuum. Kinda like Roomba but Mint does wet mopping and vacuuming. They claim it uses the latest technology for guidance around your home, chair legs, tables, etc. to "never miss a spot." I did not try this myself, but saw plenty of people at the booth marveling over it. I have tile floors, this thing would be very nice to own.
- Ty Handset fob ID chips - Do you have valuables and electronics that you fear misplacing or losing? This product answers most of that concern. You load the provided app on your smartphone (not yet available on iPhone) and attach the small round chips to things you value. Examples shown in Vegas were a camera, wallet, car keys, a child and a pet collar. If the objects go outside a 50ft range of bluetooth communication with your phone, an audio or visual alarm triggers in your phone notifying you of the instance. You can set the alarm to fire off at one of three sensitivities, depending on how close you'd like the objects tagged with the little round fob chips to wander. You get 7 ID chips to attach to your possessions. The Ty system also and most importantly warns you with LED lights and a buzzer if you leave your phone behind, which is important if you plan on using this phone-based system. Ok idea, but they need to add iPhone functionality.
- TV tech - Larger TVs were NOT the rage this year. The sizes were the same as two years ago as far as I could tell. 3D was the big push last year, so for 2011 content and Internet integration was the sparkle in many manufacturer's offerings. Samsung had brilliant displays, their 8000 series were LED and featured thin, sleek brushed stell bezels. Want, want, want. They claimed the first TV app store, Samsung's Smart Hub system, which made app-like icons for premium channels, sports subscriptions, Netflix, etc. as well as managing your personal media, photos, videos and music. Sony had Google TV running with the help of their Blue ray players. Neat, but the real prize for TV/Internet mingling goes to Logitech for their Revue product. It is a small box with wireless keyboard that connects wirelessly or wired to your home Internet connection, then to your TV and cable/satellite provider. Using Google TV logic, it allows searching of all media, external hard drives plugged into Revue, the TV directory, and the whole Internet for content. Picture in picture allow you to watch a show, bring up Google or any other web page, shop, search, update Facebook during commercials, anything you would do with a laptop or tablet while watching TV. Only difference is this is all happening on your big HD TV display with surround sound. (If you have a big HD TV and surround sound of course, that not included with Revue!) IT is an amazing product that will be normal in all homes in 3 years, as normal as cable and satellite service. Logitech and Google got this one right. Unfortunately for me, upon arrival back home, I learn my 65" TV is HD but 1st generation, before HDMI was the standard. That's the only way Revue connects to your TV, so for me its' not just $299 for Revue, it's a new TV with HDMI hookups as well. :( This was the best product I saw at CES though!
- USB 3.0 - It's time for a new connectivity option, right? USB 3.0 is the same type of "connect on the fly" interface but it is 10 times faster than current USB 2.0 you have on your laptop or PC. That's significantly more than you can wrap your imagination around, especially when you see what that type of speed means to new peripherals and devices. See next item for an example...
- About the only thing that hasn't gone wireless over the years are monitors, right? How could you possibly transmit that much data over the air to update and refresh today's nice big hi-res screens? Answer: USB 3.0. Samsung's line of Enterprise monitors are starting to come with a USB 3.0 dongle that attaches to your laptop. The advantages of enterprise monitors are that they are big and can change orientation to portrait or traditional landscape. So pull up to your desk with a comparably smaller laptop screen and what happens? If you have Samsung's latest, you put the USB 3.0 dongle in the laptop and when it's close enough (A few feet is close enough) your laptop screen takes over the enterprise monitor's screen and you have a whopping big display! See picture for example - this is what USB 3.0 will bring to us. Wireless printing even faster, photo downloads, gaming, it will be a significant difference.
More to follow... next we'll look at the clearly non-business and fun side of CES. With 2700 exhibiting companies, it can't all be suits and penny loafers, right?