I am no longer a Consumer Electronics Show virgin. I have conquered my first time at the biggest tradeshow convention of my life. More than 150k attendees have dropped into the Las Vegas Convention Center to explore the latest and "greatest" technology to come. Everything here is the biggest, the smallest, the fastest, the most efficient, the greenest, the most innovative, the only, the _____ (your adverb here).
We entered the South Hall Thursday morning and were instantly disoriented. Imagine walking into a robust casino with every slot machine going off and you have an idea of the frenetic energy on the show floor. Oh, and, the South Hall doesn't even cover a third of who's here at the show. By 6 p.m. we had barely made it to the Main Lobby where Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic were displaying ginormous 3D flatscreen TVs.
The trends you'll find for next year start with tablets. Everyone is making a keyboardless touchscreen thanks to the iPad frenzy. Blackberry's Playbook is getting the lion's share of the buzz but that doesn't mean you won't find a pad that's just right for you and within your budget. Could I tell you who's making the best? NO. I'd have to use all of them and I don't see that happening. But I do plan on chatting with the marketing dude for CES to get his expert opinions on all things electronic.
Green energy and home automation to address energy saving is all over the place. I can't wait to get my hands on an electronic thermostat I can control with an iPod app. GE and a few other companies are working on "smart systems" that integrate your home appliances with your power meter but until the utility companies purchase the technology we won't be able to fully utilize what they're creating. But I did hear that a company called Trane has a stand alone, mobile-enabled thermostat.
Imagine you're out skiing and you realize that your thermostat was set to 70 because it was frigid when you woke up and you ran out without lowering it back down. Just open your app and log into your home meter before the tram doors shut and you have nothing to worry about.
Another company I've hunting down is called Vision Objects. They've developed handwriting recognition software that really works! The possibility of me writing in my journal or on a notepad, recording my penstrokes and uploading them into a word doc is really here. I can use my own paper anywhere. It's too much to ask to make the pen and recorder waterproof but that day may come shortly.
I'm sure you're wondering if I saw any robots. Of course I did. In addition to the iRobot Roomba, the little, round disc that bumps into walls and furniture and jams up from all the dog hair, there were a few of those Jetson/R2D2 buddies attracting attention. Some worked, some didn't. Most are still in the development phase and will be used by researchers. The one below is only for friendship at the moment. I'm not sure what's worse; social interaction solely through Facebook or a robot friend.
Other attention grabbers at the show include boxes to stream Internet programs to your television, gaming like Wii's race car driving game that you play from an inflatable race car, electric 'smart' cars, solar chargers of every size and shape with finally enough juice to power your iPhone smartphone or Mp3 player, pocket projectors to screen movies onto a wall from your iPhone and 3D digital cameras.
I slid into the Oregon Scientific room knowing I could find outdoor gadgets. Wireless weather stations, a new point-of-view waterproof helmet cam with a GPS add-on accessory that will map your trails and locations, and a strapless, touchscreen heartrate monitor wrist watch dazzled my expectations.
OK, I have to confess that one of the most exciting things I saw today was a wireless, waterproof, um, massager called the Alia from Lelo. Ladies, the little gizmo was sooo cool! Can't wait to, um, test it.
More gadgeting and reporting tomorrow.