Even though it was upstaged for a day by Macworld and the iPhone, the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show was a colossal success, drawing 140,000 attendees and 2,700 exhibitors, including all the biggest names in the electronics world. In the midst of the show, throngs of attendees descended on the Las Vegas Convention Center’s main hall, where they gathered at Intel’s home networking demonstrations. Music and movie technology dominated many of the booths, including Microsoft’s and Motorola’s. Moto did the best job of stealing the hearts of weary attendees, however, by creating a mock subway car where stragglers could sit on benches, listen to music or watch live TV on mobile phones attached to the “subway poles.”
Ford, Microsoft Unveil Sync
Microsoft Corp. and Ford Motor Co. officially unveiled “Sync,” an operating system that serves as a foundation for consumers — particularly young consumers — enabling them to bring their mobile devices into the vehicle. Its first embodiment will be in the low-cost Ford Focus, where Ford executives expect iPod-equipped consumers to start hooking up.
“We tried to take consumer devices that people use in the office and in the gym, and seamlessly integrate them into the car,” says Scott Porter, lead program manager for Microsoft Auto.
Sync serves a combination of technologies from the communications and entertainment worlds. It includes standards for Bluetooth, so drivers can sync a hands-free wireless earpiece with their phones. It also works with USB sticks, iPods and Microsoft Zune players. Sync also can display mobile phone text messages on-screen, another sign Ford and Microsoft engineers were thinking of young adults and teens with their new entry.
Forget Credit Cards, Pay With your Cell Phone
Electronics companies at CES said they are working on a novel idea that would use existing technology to enable users to pay for items with their phones, instead of their credit cards. Near-Field Communication (NFC) RF technology, which operates at 13.56 MHz and has a range of just a few inches, could allow users to hold a phone to a receiver at a department store or restaurant to pay for purchases without the use of a credit card.
NXP Semiconductors (formerly Philips Semiconductors) demonstrated the technology at CES by holding an NFC-equipped phone to a hotel-type, video-on-demand payment computer and purchasing a video. Simultaneously, Nokia announced at the show that it has rolled out the world’s first commercial NFC-based handset, the Nokia 6131 NFC phone.
Handling Home Media
Also at the show, Freescale and Axentra showed a hardware-software platform for accessing, moving and sharing media content in the home. The platform integrates Axentra’s HipServ platform with Freescale’s MPC8313 family of PowerQuicc digital media processors. Hipserv provides a portal for consumers to save photos, music video and documents, and enables management of other home devices, such as Internet, video and surveillance. Engineers there said the high-performing PowerQuicc core enables management of multiple media streams. “You can be watching a movie, and someone else might be listening to the radio or accessing remotely, and it can handle it all,” says Eric Lefebvre, executive vice president of business development for Axentra.