From CES: Despite gloomy economic forecasts for 2009, expectations are
still high at this year's Consumer Electronics
Show. The Consumer Electronics Association,
producer of the show, expects to pack more than 100,000 visitors and 2,700 exhibitors
in 1.7 million sq ft of space.
The 2009 version of the show, which
officially opens on Thursday, January 8th, promises to place a heavy
emphasis on gaming and motion, as well as HDTV products and audio. "Gaming is
driving everything," says Denis Labrecque, DSP marketing manager for Analog Devices, Inc. "It used to be that games
were made about movies. Now, movies are being made about games."
Many consumer electronics experts
say that the Nintendo Wii has permanently
changed the consumer electronics landscape. A few decades ago, audio companies
announced they were moving from analog to digital; a decade later, video moved
to digital. Now, motion is being digitized.
"We're talking about no more
buttons or fingers," Labrecque says. "Just gestures."
At the show, Hillcrest Labs will demonstrate a
reference design for a product called Freespace
that will incorporate motion into televisions and home theaters. The
technology, which uses Analog Devices' MEMS sensors, would eliminate the need
for television viewers to press buttons on their remote controls. Instead, remote
controllers would take their direction from user motions. (See a video of Freespace.)
Similarly, Sixense will demonstrate a technology that
combines RF and DSP technologies to enable multiple "gamers" to step in front
of each other and have their motions recognized by an HDTV system. (See video
of the Sixense technology.)
As always, handheld technology will
also draw CES crowds. Freescale
Semiconductor will team with Pegatron Corp. to
demonstrate a reference design that promises to cut as much as $100 off the
price of so-called "netbooks," which are designed to more easily place Internet
access in the hands of teen-agers.
Others at the show read like a
Who's Who of the electronics industry, with such heavy-hitters as Microsoft Corp., Intel, Texas
Instruments, Advanced Micro Devices, Sony, Sharp,
Panasonic and others showing off the
latest in consumer technology. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will take Bill Gates
annual spot as the opening keynote speaker on Wednesday night, and a host of
other big-name speakers, including Alan Mulally of Ford Motor Co., Dirk Meyer
of AMD, and Intel chairman Craig Barrett will address CES's throngs.
This year's agenda will also include appearances from a host of
celebrities, including former-NBA star Clyde Drexler, Indy race-car driver
Sarah Fisher, basketball Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton, Boston Red Sox star David
Ortiz, Chicago Cubs' shortstop Ryna Theriot, singer Stevie Wonder, and the cast
of NBC's Today Show.