Searching For IT At CES - InformationWeek
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Art Wittmann
Art Wittmann
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Searching For IT At CES

At CES, there are two fairly huge floors devoted to what would generally be thought of as information technology. Video producer Fritz Nelson and I made the rounds and found some great new technology.

At CES, there are two fairly huge floors devoted to what would generally be thought of as information technology. Video producer Fritz Nelson and I made the rounds and found some great new technology.The first thing that hits you about CES is the size and extravagance of the event. Our first stop was at HP, which had about a dozen interview rooms built into its show space along with huge separate areas for printers, cameras, and computers. The second thing that strikes you about CES is that the vendors are very careful about speaking to the press. We talked to several well-versed HP reps -- but the second we talked about filming, we were sent to the PR group. This was pretty standard practice - with almost every vendor having only a few people designated for video. But while HP's facilities get top marks, they failed to have a single person at the show who could speak to us on camera about their printers. That's pretty poor, HP! So while you'll see lots of video from the show floor none of it is of HP stuff. We wanted to show you the output from some of HP's new large form factor printers, but you'll just have take my word for it, they print some great large scale pictures.

We saw a lot of interesting wireless stuff. Wireless USB is very cool and should be working its way into your next system. Belkin showed a wireless HDMI (hi-def media interconnect)box that also up-converts NTSC and other lower resolution formats to HD (1080p). The device uses 802.11n the transmit its signal, and Belkin says it's got a range of 50 feet or more. The price of 802.11n gear is definitely falling fast, this is one instance where you can clearly see the effect of a consumer market. The size of the market has everyone in a race to cut prices in an aim to get market share. NetGear, for example, has a new 802.11n router that will run about $130. The router has eight antennas in the box, which ups throughput slightly (10% to 30%), but more important allows for good performance even in congested airspace. The routers also recognize a number of application protocols and prioritize bandwidth accordingly. Real-time applications like voice, video, and gaming get top priority.

IBM's booth was interesting -- even just the fact that IBM had a booth is surprising. The company has consistently divested itself of consumer technology. So what you'll find at IBM are a number of its partners with unique technologies that have both consumer and business uses. The one that we looked at used sensors (you can see me wearing the device in our video section) to detect facial expressions and emotions. The system was still in prototype mode, but it worked quite well. Emotiv Systems makes the device and believes the consumer version will be ready in a year -- and the real deal will be considerably smaller than the device we saw. Applications range from measuring users responses to new products, to providing additional feedback for games to giving avatars more personality in virtual worlds like Second Life.

Green technology also was on display, including one vendor who was hawking high-end solar panels for personal use. Small ones that are highly portable put out a few watts. The company's largest panel is intended to be mounted on an RV or boat, and it puts out 130 watts.

As an interesting marketing ploy, each product has a sticker on it that reports just how much of your carbon footprint you can eliminate by using the panel. The largest can reduce your footprint by more than 300 pounds.

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