Every year, in January, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is held in Las Vegas. For 3 days the shining city in the desert hosts the companies who make technology attractive to the masses. Over the years the show has morphed from a “video game and VCR” show into something much bigger and broader.
Prior to 2004, there existed a separate trade fair for the computer industry called COMDEX which was held in mid-November every year. COMDEX featured computer hardware, software and components. In fact Joe Harris and I attended several COMDEX shows where we were able to see and acquire hardware that geoLOGIC used for delivery of product to our clients. Among the methods that we adopted over the years were a library of Colorado Tape 250MB drives which we used for shipping data in the days before CDs. We later moved to 500MB TEAC removable Hard Drive packs, which came out just before CD burners came on the market.
When the late, lamented COMDEX show was discontinued in 2004 CES was a beneficiary of an influx of computer companies who no longer had a show in North America (however the component manufacturers weren’t part of that move – they stayed closer to home, attending CompuTEX instead).
CES is now the world’s largest consumer technology trade show with approximately 125,000 people expected to attend between January 6th and 9th.
So, what does that have to do with our industry? Well, a trend that we have seen over the years is an adoption and adaptation of consumer-level hardware for use in a business environment. Generally, ruggedized notebooks and handheld devices are consumer hardware with better protection. And the pendulum has swung over the past 10 years to seeing much higher performance graphics and CPUs going into gaming computers and then those components becoming the core of high-end business desktop workstation computers over the subsequent 12 months, using drivers that have been stabilized over the course of the first year gaming experience. And the high capacity drives that you’ll see later this year were probably first demo’d at CES this past week.
The other thing that comes out of CES is a sneak peek at what the breakout technology trends might be. Here’s a list I grabbed from the CES website:
Products that Debuted at CES
- Videocassette Recorder (VCR), 1970
- Laserdisc Player, 1974
- Camcorder, 1981
- Compact Disc Player, 1981
- Digital Audio Technology, 1990
- Compact Disc – Interactive, 1991
- Mini Disc, 1993
- Radio Data System, 1993
- Digital Satellite System, 1994
- Digital Versatile Disk (DVD), 1996
- High Definition Television (HDTV), 1998
- Hard-disc VCR (PVR), 1999
- Digital Audio Radio (DAR), 2000
- Microsoft Xbox, 2001
- Plasma TV, 2001
- Home Media Server, 2002
- HD Radio, 2003
- Blu-Ray DVD, 2003
- HDTV PVR, 2003
- IP TV, 2005
- An explosion of digital content services, 2006
- New convergence of content and technology, 2007
- OLED TV, 2008
- 3D HDTV, 2009
- Tablets, Netbooks and Android Devices, 2010
The 2010 item is interesting to me because it speaks to a technology that does have a definite potential for our industry. And reports from CES for 2011 show that the Tablet is huge again this year (although 3D devices that don’t require glasses are something else that caught my attention). The Tablet form factor has gotten an awful lot of attention this past year because of the iPad (which I’m not going to link to, because I’m not an iPod fan), but what was shown at CES this year includes tablets running Windows 7, which means that there is a possible geoSCOUT use. We’ll need to see if the hardware is up to snuff for the level of computation that geoSCOUT demands, but imagine how natural it would be to draw your contours on the map with a stylus rather than a mouse! 2011 looks like it is going to be a fun year for tech.