Wireless Technology Will Flood CES

Look for mobile TVs, wearable computing devices, portable media players, wireless in-vehicle technology, next-generation networking equipment, and much more.

Elena Malykhina, Technology Journalist

January 4, 2008

5 Min Read

If there is one key trend that probably will dominate the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas, it will be wireless. Among the more than 2,700 exhibitors showcasing products in over 30 categories, wireless technologies are expected to make an appearance in a wide variety of products.

Although many of the top phone makers, including Nokia, Motorola, and Research In Motion, will be at the show, none of them have officially disclosed plans to introduce new mobile devices. That doesn't mean the show won't be packed with other mobile and wireless innovation likely to hit the mass market over the next year or two. This includes wearable computing devices, portable media players, wireless in-vehicle technology, next-generation networking equipment, and much more.

It seems like mobile TV disappeared off the radar for a while, but some of the largest technology vendors are making a comeback with new devices that they hope will put mobile TV in the pockets of millions of wireless users.

Motorola will showcase its Mobile TV DH01 device, launched earlier this week. The pocket-size media player allows consumers to access live, on-demand, and recorded programs saved on a DVR. It comes with a 4.3-inch Wide Quarter Video Graphics Array Screen that uses up to 16 million colors, a five-minute memory buffer for pausing programs during live viewing, and a four-hour rechargeable battery.

The DH01 is based on the DVBH broadcasting standard, so it's compatible with different devices, networks, and application service platforms, according to Motorola. The company said the new media player represents a natural extension for Motorola from video and mobility to mobile TV.

Meanwhile, LG Electronics also has mobile TV on its road map. The company has developed a Mobile Pedestrian Handheld system for mobile TV broadcasts in North America. MPH serves up a high-quality video feed even in vehicles moving at speeds of about 55 miles an hour. It also allows users to get local news and weather information.

In addition, Motorola will preview its CPEi 100 WiMax customer premises equipment. The CPEi 100 is a 2.5-GHz device that sits on a desktop and connects a computer and a WiMax network. It will be available this year to WiMax network operators that have deployed systems in the 2.5-GHz band, said Motorola.

As for phones and other mobile devices, there are some practical and high-impact ones to watch for at CES.

OpenMoko, a community-driven effort to create an open platform for mobile devices, will introduce a mass-market version of a mobile phone based on open source principles. The phone, called Neo FreeRunner, is an improvement to OpenMoko's Linux-based Neo 1973 phone, which became available to developers last July. FreeRunner comes with 2-D/3-D graphics and a 500-MHz processor for better performance and video and audio processing, according to OpenMoko.

There will be two types of FreeRunner phones: an 850-MHz tri-band version and a 900-MHz tri-band version. Both versions also will have integrated Wi-Fi for high-speed Internet access and motion sensors that can detect a user's activity.

OpenMoko and parent company FIC, in partnership with Dash Navigation, launched this week a consumer Internet-connected GPS device called Dash Express. The device, which will be showcased at CES, uses Neo mobile hardware and software. It's priced at $600 and will start shipping at the end of next month. Turtle Wireless, a wholesaler of cellular phone accessories, will introduce a wearable tri-band GSM phone, the TWP-800. Meant to be worn like a wristwatch, the phone comes with stereo Bluetooth, a touch screen, WAP/GPRS, and the ability to play MP3/MP4 files. Initially the TWP-800 only will be available in Latin America starting Jan. 13 and cost $199.95.

Microvision, a developer of display and imaging products, is getting ready to unveil an advanced prototype of a handheld plug-and-play projector for mobile devices and applications. The battery-powered projector, code-named Show, is based on Microvision's single micro-mirror laser scanning display technology and uses the company's proprietary ultraminiature PicoP display engine.

Show is the size of a PDA and can be connected directly to laptops, mobile phones, portable media players, digital cameras, and other mobile devices for projecting high-resolution images and video on different surfaces. The images can range from 12 inches to 100 inches, said Microvision. The projector's battery is expected to last 2.5 hours, enough for watching a full-length movie on a single charge.

Splashpower, a supplier of wireless power technology, plans to demonstrate its universal wireless charging base that can recharge portable electronic devices, such as cell phones and media players, without wires or connectors.

For those who commute daily and find themselves bored in traffic, Autonet Mobile, an in-car Internet service provider, will introduce new features in its Autonet Mobile Wi-Fi Router that allows drivers to store personalized content and media within their cars as they access the Internet from any Wi-Fi enabled device, including gaming consoles, media players, laptops, and cell phones. The features will be showcased in a Toyota Camry in partnership with Delphi. Autonet will also demonstrate how passengers can download and store movies, music, and online games using the Wi-Fi Router.

Let's not forget last-year's most talked about mobile gadget -- the iPhone. Third-party developers are still waiting for Apple to open it to outside applications that can reside directly on the iPhone. Currently Web browser-based applications are the only option. Many expect that CES will be the place where new iPhone applications make their debut.

Lagotek, a maker of home automation systems, will unveil its HIP Modes Sideshow home control for the iPhone and the iPod touch. Using Go Gadgets technology provided by Ikanos Consulting, HIP Modes automates controls in the home, like light switches, alarm systems, and home entertainment systems, so they can be controlled from the iPhone or iPod touch over Wi-Fi and GPRS/EDGE networks. Go Gadgets is a Web application for Windows Vista that allows users to turn Apple's gadgets into Windows SideShow-capable devices.

This is just a snippet of what's to come. Pen-based computing, infrared and wireless distribution systems, health care applications, network storage management, security, and mobile software will be some of the other hot topics at the show.

About the Author(s)

Elena Malykhina

Technology Journalist

Elena Malykhina began her career at The Wall Street Journal, and her writing has appeared in various news media outlets, including Scientific American, Newsday, and the Associated Press. For several years, she was the online editor at Brandweek and later Adweek, where she followed the world of advertising. Having earned the nickname of "gadget girl," she is excited to be writing about technology again for InformationWeek, where she worked in the past as an associate editor covering the mobile and wireless space. She now writes about the federal government and NASA’s space missions on occasion.

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