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Going Virtual at CES 2010

January 13, 2010 - 0 Comments

If there ever was a geek-utopia, it would no doubt look very similar to CES.   Big booths, big announcements and even bigger TVs.  CES 2010 in Las Vegas is being hailed as one of the better shows in the past few years, with all companies big and small releasing high-tech devices.    Unfortunately I could not physically attend, but thanks to the thousands of bloggers and live video streams, I was able to experience much of it virtually.

If you ask most people what the overall theme was at CES this year, they would most likely say 3D.   While 3D was the most talked about technology at the show, I would disagree that it was the overall theme.  I feel convergence was the real star at CES.    Internet connected TVs, new media center devices, video conference TVs, even Twitter on your TV.  The living room just got more connected. 

For the past ten years, technology companies have strived to bridge the gap between television & computers.   Media center PCs were a huge step forward (and one of the best products Microsoft has produced), but they were expensive and added another large energy hogging machine under the TV.  The Blue-Ray player, the 2 terabyte storage drive, everything in the rack seems to be getting more advanced, except for the television.  Things are about to change.  This year CES brought the internet where it had never been before- right into the back of the TV.    These new TVs are suddenly offering twitter feeds, yahoo news, sports scores, and movie streaming.  

While these features are a welcome addition, there is really much more to the story.   This will bring internet content straight into the living room, without the complications of external media streamers or PCs.   Webcasts, web-based content, and virtual events have a new path for distribution.  While most tech savvy folks have been connecting TVs to view internet content, there is a huge segment of the population that have never accessed this content from the couch.   Samsung and Vizio are two companies that are changing the game.   

Viewing content is one aspect, what about viewing friends and family?   Cisco was onsite at CES showing off another hot technology that is now bridging the gap from the conference room to the home- Telepresense.    Cisco will begin testing in-home telepresence in partnership with Verizon; it will be a device that will connect to existing home TVs and internet connections.   Video conferencing in the home has had a shaky history, but this implementation looks like it may finally break through and become as common as the DVR.  Delivering the dramatic quality of telepresence to the home, will enable those living far away to connect like never before.   

Augmented reality was also on display at CES, and this latest demonstration is one of the more interesting and fun I have seen.   This is an iPhone app that allows you to control a mini-helicopter drone, with a built in camera.    Have a look at this video for a demonstration:


Users can fly this drone, up to 150 feet away, while chasing imaginary monsters or fighter planes – all on the screen on their iPhone.   Add a second AR drone, and you can battle your friend in a dogfight.   This sounds like a incredible new toy, and the manufacturer expects to begin shipping this summer. 

And I used to think Laser Tag was cool.   Welcome to 2010.   

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