Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates launched the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) here in Las Vegas on Sunday with a speech that emphasized high-definition displays, service-connected products and new user interfaces.
Gates, who was doing the CES keynote speech for perhaps the final time, said the electronics industry is entering a “second digital decade” that will be characterized by new applications on the Internet, in cars and on televisions.
“The second digital decade will be more focused on connecting people,” Gates said. “It will be more focused on being user-centric.”
Gates cited three key trends that will serve as enablers for that user-centric future:
High-definition displays will be “everywhere,” he said. The new emphasis, however, will go beyond PC displays and televisions. Gates described new computer-based projectors that will display images on walls and new embedded computers mounted inside furniture.
“Rich devices” will be service-connected, Gates said, by software that may not have been invented yet. Examples include mapping services and payment services, as well as other Internet-based functions that are currently “in the cloud.”
Natural user interfaces will add power to new applications. Those will include touch screens on PCs and mobile phones, as well as speech recognition interfaces, like those already seen on Ford Motor Co.’s Sync.
“The first digital decade was driven by the keyboard and the mouse,” Gates told the standing-room audience. “But in the last two years, we’ve seen the emergence of other forms of interaction.”
In his speech, Gates also poked fun at his July retirement, which will not involve day-to-day work with Microsoft Corp. for the first time in 35 years. The company played a documentary-style video in which Gates tried his hand at becoming a rock star, movie star, news anchor and work-out enthusiast. The video included cameo appearances by Hillary Clinton, George Clooney, Barack Obama, Al Gore and a host of other celebrities.
Gates saved his real enthusiasm for his descriptions of the future, however, repeatedly reiterating his belief that the second digital decade will be as strong as the first.
“This is just the beginning,” Gates declared. “There’s nothing holding us back from going much faster and much further in the second digital decade.”