West Chester University
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The consumer electronics show is held early in January of each year. Most people know the consumer electronics show from segments on morning talk shows.
A reporter stands in front of a camera and begins, "Today, live from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada we're going to look at a telephone built into a wristwatch, a memory module the size of a quarter which holds 500 MB of storage, a device that will obsolete your VCR, home networking systems, and two way satellite access to the Web from your home, and hints from Bill Gates about the next windows operating system. Stay tuned for information on these products."
Most people hear about The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) from segments like these, broadcast live from the convention floor.
The Consumer Electronics Show is an annual showcase for the hottest consumer technologies. The show is sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association. With more than 1,800 companies exhibiting in a 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space, CES is the largest consumer electronics trade show in the world.
Industry professionals numbering more than a 110,000 from 125 countries attended the 2001 show. CES also drawls more than 20,000 nonretail corporate buyers, financial/market analysis, content providers and creators, broadband developers and government officials.
"The consumer technology industry is a $93 billion business in the U.S. alone, and most of the business starts at CES every year," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO for the Consumer Electronics Association. "Not only is CES the launch pad for all major consumer technologies such as a satellite radio, next generation digital television (DTV), interactive set-top boxes and wireless information devices, the show is a meeting place for executives throughout the world involved in consumer technology hardware, content and delivery systems." (See side bar #1.)
High tech "toys" are a major reason people enjoy CES. As a launching pad for electronic innovation, CES is the place to be for the latest and greatest in new and emerging technologies. Technologies that will affect your at home and at work.
Sales of consumer electronics goods from manufacturers to dealers will surpass $95.6 billion in 2001 according to the Consumer Electronics Association figures.
"The spectacular growth in sales of consumer electronics this year is due in large part to the wide variety of products made possible by digital technology," said Gary Shapiro president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. "Now, more than ever, manufacturers are offering customizable products to facilitate consumer's lifestyles and workstyles. The industry will continue to grow as consumers want products that suit their active lives."
The effect of digital technologies on the consumer electronics industry growth can be seen in virtually all product categories, with such varied products as digital cameras, DVD players, MP3 players, wireless telephones and digital cameras each will have strong growth figures in their respective categories.
One category most affected by the digital revolution has been home information products. The home information sector includes technologies that allow consumers to work when, where and how they want. According to the new Consumer Electronics Association estimates, the home information category will total sales of more than $39 billion in 2001.
The other category most greatly affected by the digital revolution has been mobile electronics. Digital technology has vastly improved the ease with which consumers can access information and entertainment as well as stay in touch with friends and family. Sales of mobile electronics are projected to reach 10.5 billion in 2001 and 80 percent increase over 2000. The wireless phones maintain the largest share of the category.
Products in the video category, such as digital televisions, camcorders, personal video recorders and DVD players should lead the field in this strong consumer area. Video related products in this category are expected to have sales of $20.3 billion in 2001.
Within the video category, digital versatile disc (DVD) players have far exceeded sales expectations. In 1999, DVD players became the fastest selling product in history of consumer electronics with more than 4 million units sold during the year. In 2000, that number rose to more than 8.2 million. Projected sales for 2001 show the 12.5 million.
Intel president and CEO Craig Barrett described his vision of the evolving role of the PC in consumers' lives. Surrounded by a myriad of Intel-powered consumer electronics devices he demonstrated how powerful chip technology will enable the PC to stand at the center of the digital universe.
Barrett described the current state of technology as having created "the digital universe, where the core of the PC is the center," and the development of new PC peripheral devices "expanding the universe around the PC, and compounding the capability of the PC in the process."
During a lively 60 minute presentation, Barrett demonstrated how new chip technology has enabled the PC to evolve from a stand-alone device into the "central nervous system for the entertainment system of the home." Using examples, such as, a combination wireless phone/personal digital assistant and a Web tablet, Barrett showed how peripheral devices allow consumers the flexibility to gather information as demanded by their active lives, while at the same time, allowing them to utilize the processing power of the PC to store and manipulate that same information.
"The PC is the digital brain, capturing information in one place and delivering it in another," Barrett said. "and the value of the PC to the user grows exponentially as we have more tools connected to the PC."
Palm's CEO, Carl Yankowski, drove his own vintage blue Volkswagen beetle onto the stage to begin his keynote address to the consumer electronics show.
"The VW was symbolic of a reliable design and technology that was easy to use and adopted by the masses," Yankowski said, likening his company's PDA with the easy-to-use and reliable design of the Volkswagen.
"Handheld computing has changed the way we work and live," he said. "How many of us can honestly say that there is a strict delineation of our work and personal lives? The handheld will do for computing what the Walkman did for music."
In contrast with PCs and notebook computers Yankowski said that "handhelds are triumphing because the computer industry obsessed over microprocessor speeds and myriad functionalities that eclipsed the daily needs of ordinary people.
He talked about car dashboards, which have remained relatively the same, hiding the numerous processors and components that run a car and presenting users with easy-to-use buttons. That simplicity and transparent technology resonates with consumers, said Yankowski, and that is the mind-set of Palm.
The three keys to palm's current and future success,said Yankowski, are: user experience, incorporating and easy-to-use interface with access to relevant content; transparent technology or sophisticated technology behind an easy-to-use façade; and finally, the Palm economy, a network of more than 130,000 applications and extension developers which enhances the product for different uses.
Palm OS 4.0 (expected soon) will incorporate telephony, e-mail and instant messaging. Palm OS 5.0, which is in development, will enable multimedia, music, video and gaming in 16-bit color.
Future Palms will be able to store credit card information, accessible via a personal identification number, for in-store purchasing. Users would simply point to Palm at an Ingenico point-of-sale station and being their credit card information to it. I device bills will be mail to users, as well as stored in the Palm for reference.
Bill Gates' remarks focused on the concept of "extreme entertainment" and the digital lifestyle. "Consumer experiences change when we put them in a digital form," he said, and "extreme entertainment is a digital lifestyle that changes media itself." Gates explained this concept by demonstrating many consumer electronics products that utilized the power of the PC and software to facilitate flexibility of information access, usage and storage in consumer's lives.
In demonstrating the next version of Microsoft's popular Windows operating system software, currently known as Whistler, he described the concept of the "extended PC" as "a machine that you will be leaning on 24 hours a day." The "extended PC" is a machine that is always on and serves as the main warehouse for content that it distributes to the rest of the home via any number of different networks.
The Whistler software will move in the direction of making it very consumer oriented. Making it very friendly for the home user to use. So I can be on 24 hours a day and to have the same reliability and durability as a traditional consumer electronics device.
Gates concluded his presentation by unveiling Microsoft's new Xbox gaming console. A new venture for the company, Microsoft expects the Xbox to be a tremendous success in the marketplace. The Xbox will be available "later this year." Called a "broadband gaming device" the deck has four-game ports, can support HDTV, and includes an Ethernet connection.
"The PC's future is as a digital media center." Gate's said. "Control has to follow the user, not the PC. The concept has to be, you get back into control, not just when you're on your PC."
The future of the PC and of Windows in the home is moving beyond productivity, into PC activity centers emphasizing photos and music, with video, games and communication.
"The real explosion of the PC in the workplace has been with text" emphasized Gates. "But now", he said, "there was a return to the original dreamed that this is a device for all."
Bill Gates comments about the PC being a device for all, brings us back to some of the products mentioned in the opening statements from our CES reporter.
As the digital age takes over, it will reshape the way that we interact with and manpulate all forms of digital information.
Digital Video Recorder (DVR) technology will change the way many schedule and view broadcast, cable and satellite dish programming. A DVR device records television programming to a hard disc drive instead of traditional videotape.
One such device is called TiVo. TiVo you can store up to 30 hours of recorded material. Updates to current programming are received by the unit via a telephone call made each day by TiVo. The program listings are shown on your TV screen and selected for recording with the push of a button.
When you want to watch a program that you have recorded one button brings up a listing with the title in time that the program was recorded. You can then randomly selected which program you would like to watch. No more fast forwarding to hours of tape to find your show.
With TiVo the user can control live TV. For instance, if you are watching a program in the phone rings, push the pause button on the TiVo remote and the program automatically starts to record to the disk drive. When you return from the phone call push play and your programming continues from where you left off. A push of the resume buttons instantly catches you up to the live broadcast.
Memory sticks and are readily available for a variety of digital applications. The common capacities for today's memory sticks are either 32,64 or 128 MB. DataPlay, Inc. has unvailed a new digital media that will hold 250MB on a single-sided and 500MB on a double-sided micro-optical disc. The discs will support both user recorded and secure pre-recorded content on the same media.
Using new high quality compression technology, DataPlay digital media can hold up to 11 hours of music or combinations of music, images, video, documents, software and other digital content on a single disc. The blank discs will retail between $5 and $12.
Home newtworking and the ability to utilize high speed broadband internet access will be key for improved functionality and the ability to take advantage of new and expanding capabilities.
2Wire, Inc.is offering a product that will enable people to easily network their homes using existing telephone wiring. The HomePortal 100, from 2Wire, turns your broadband modem into an intellegent residential gateway. By simply plugging HomePortal 100 into your broadband modem and any telephone jack, all telephone jacks become active, high-speed links to the Internet, allowing multiple computers in your home to use your highband connection simultaneously.
Away from home and want to check in - try a product like BeAtHome. BeAtHome is a provider of Internet-based home automation and home security products. BeAtHome captures data from around the home from various wireless decices. This information - heating controls, window sensors, medical monitors,smoke and CO detectors, cameras, ... - are accessed and controlled from a private web site.
Awards are given each year to recognize the best designed and engineered products into various categories represented at the consumer electronics show. These prestigious awards are an opportunity for manufacturers and developers to have their products judged by a preeminent panel of journalist, designers and engineers, and have the winning products showcased at the 2001 international CES. Twenty judges were divided by various product categories. Product evaluations are based on weighted criteria, including value to users, aesthetics, contributions to the quality of life, the products innovative qualities and overall excellence. This year there were over 600 entries. (See side bar for the winners.)
Category Product Name Company
Accessories Pronto Pro Philips Consumer Electronics
Audio Duo-ARIA Digisette, LLC
Blank Media DataPlay Digital Media DataPlay Inc.
Computer Hardware/Software Crusoe Smart Microprocessor Transmeta Corp.
Digital Imaging CD-R Mavica Sony Electronics
Electronic Gaming Shark MX InterAct Accessories Inc. (A Recoton Company)
Home Appliances Family-Size Microwave Oven with Inverter Technology Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co.
Home Data Networking HomePortal 2Wire Inc.
Integrated Home Systems Isys Touchpanel Control System Crestron Electronics Inc.
Mobile Electronics Remote Diagnostic Digital Display Kit Phoenix Gold International Inc.
Mobile Office Lapstation Intrigo Inc.
Office Equipment CD Autoloader IntelliTouch
Online/Internet Kerbango Internet Radio 3Com Corp.
Personal Electronics (tie) Satellite Navi Casio Inc.
Personal Electronics (tie) Wrist Camera Watch Casio Inc.
Retail Resource How2TV Instruction Pac How2TV Inc.
Satellite Systems DIRECTV Receiver with TiVo TiVo
Telephones Parafone Arkon Networks Inc.
Video Digital Light Processing Technology-Based HDTV Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co.
Wireless Communications Timeport 270 Motorola