Thursday, January 14, 2010

The cutting edge from CES!

Last weekend, I attended the annual Consumer Electronics(CES) show in Las Vegas. For those that don't know, this is the largest annual consumer technology event in the U.S (i.e geek Mecca) and has all the cutting edge technology on display for you to look and play with.

Needless to say, being a technology enthusiast I've been dying to go for many years and it definitely did not disappoint. I'm going to try give a glimpse of some of the technologies/trends that I saw, especially those that would be more practical and useful in developing countries.

The big hype:
A couple of technologies that everyone was talking about were 3D home televisions, E-readers and Mobile digital TV (M-DTV). 3D technology in general is not anything new, however the fact that you can now enjoy 3D television from the comfort of your home, is a compelling proposition. The sample movies on display were extremely captivating and they are already plans to launch live broadcast tv in 3D. Imagine a live Manchester United Vs. Arsenal game in 3D!

Mobile digital TV is another next generation technology that is gaining some traction. Again digital television is not new, but imagine that you could now be watching your favorite tv show while sitting on the beach.

E-readers were recently launched in the US, most popularly by Amazon ('Kindle'). The thing to note from CES about E-readers was that smaller companies are rushing into this market. E-readers of multiple shapes, sizes, colors and functionality are emerging much like MP3 players did about 3-4 years ago. From a developing world standpoint, very cheap e-readers could help students in developing countries avoid the large, expensive and hefty books that need to be purchased each year. Mobile phones took away the need for landlines in many parts of Africa, E-readers could do the same. Plus this might be more ecologically friendly in the long run...woot for less paper.

The cutting edge:
An augmented reality demo was one of the coolest things I experienced. I was given a pair of funky glasses to wear and a small board with bar code like squares on it (see below). As soon as I wore the glasses, the board turned into a virtual reality maze that could be juggled around to get a virtual ball through the maze.

The extremely thin size of LED TVs was also very interesting to see. The models I saw from LG, Samsung and Sony were as thin as a cigarette in thickness (from the side, you could only see a line).

Wireless charging devices were on display by 'PowerMat'. Basically, a small pad on which mobile phones (with a small attachment) could be placed, which would charge the device's battery. This is definitely a technology to keep an eye on.

The practical solutions:
A key trend I noticed was that the Android OS platform has been widely adopted by various OEM manufactures and so any device with a screen and some memory could now potentially have an OS built into it. This means that applications could be developed to run on Android and any of these devices...your creativity is the only limit as to how this technology could be put to use (e.g portable tablets for waiters in restaurants)

Wi-fi routers with 3G capabilities were also on display. These routers either come with a direct sim card slot or allow for a USB data card to be plugged in to provide the 3G/EDGE connection. Very useful for internet cafes or homes in areas were wired internet is still not available but mobile phone service is.

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