CES 09: Pre-Show News of Note
This is the first of many reports we'll be filing from the Consumer Electronics Show, January 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are lots of places to get all the big announcements, so our focus will be on trends and things that catch our eye.
Will Interactive Blu-Ray Save the Format?
"Dreamer, a leader in interactive TV solutions, announces today that their BIDDLE™ platform will be utilized by Technicolor to offer digital content delivery services including online and disc-based direct-to-TV solutions for Blu-ray; allowing movie studios, broadcasters, record labels and other content distributors to utilize BD-Live as a fully-controllable direct marketing and e-commerce tool."
There's a lot that's interesting in this announcement: First off, that Technicolor is expanding into your home, a smart move, but also that Blu-Ray Live can include e-commerce capabilities. Now we really might see a "click to buy Angelina Jolie's t-shirt" button floating above her during key scenes in Wanted or similar.
Will that work? Is it enough to save the lackluster performance of Blu-Ray as video on demand and DVR systems become increasingly sophisticated? You tell me.
That's not all the news that's fit to print here at the Consumer Electronics Show, however.
You Don't Really Want Your Kids to Go Deaf
One company that's clearly allocated some major dollars to try and maximize its visibility with the press and media is iHear Safe. The company makes headphones that look exactly like the ubiquitous white Apple iPod ear buds, with one very slick addition: a volume limiter so that young eardrums don't ring all night, and here at CES they're offering free headphones for any journalists who ask. They're usually $19.99, so it's a good price anyway.
My concern? First off, almost all mp3 players have built-in volume limits, people just don't know how to use them (for example, all iPods have volume limits you can set and secure with a password), and for that matter, kids can buy their own headphones and if the iHearSafe headphones look exactly like standard units, what's to stop a kid eager to achieve that delightful ear ringing effect from swapping back, leaving Mom and Dad never the wiser?
Nonetheless, I think that safety is a definite theme here at the show, and we'll keep our eyes out for more products that fit this category.
In The Not-Quite-There-Yet Department: Micro Video Projectors
You've gotta love the picture I have of the Nextar micro video projector. It's awesomely small and weights about two pounds. I mean, that's slip in your pocket small. But it's not quite ready for prime time, which is obvious once you read the specs: "The Nextar Z10 LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) front-projecting micro projector will display images with a resolution up to 640x480."
Up to 640x480? That'll work for projecting video images from a game device, but it's certainly not up for any computer projecting devices. Heck, speakers at conferences complain when the project can't handle 800x600. Yeah, probably not the same target market, but it's exciting to see how these micro-projectors are going from early prototype (CES a few years ago) to commercial product.
Streaming TV in your car?
Here's another interesting announcement we got: "Alcatel-Lucent and ICO Global Communications will be showcasing the world’s first fully integrated satellite-terrestrial network being used to deliver mobile video and interactive two-way communications services. Essentially – live satellite TV, two-way communications, and interactive navigation in mobile and portable devices, including cars."
Think about this. As a way to have the traffic data in your GPS up-to-date it's great, but I'll ask the same question I ask when I see photos of happy kids watching streaming TV on a cellphone while the parents are shopping: do we really need ubiquitous video? I dunno.
Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to seeing this demonstration, even if it just pushes the "500 channels and nothing to watch" even further into our collective consciousness.
Stay tuned for more updates!
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