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CES 2009 : Diving in Head First

My first day at CES was amazing. The largest show I had been to before this was GenCon, and while I love that great big gaming fest, it can’t hold a candle to the international Consumer Electronics Show when it comes to extravagance. The big guns are out in force – Microsoft, Intel, Sony, Panasonic; you name it. Let me tell you, they laid out some serious cash to impress the 130,000+ people who are attending this year.

The throbbing mass of people combing through the flashy electronics, full stage setups with professional presenters, entire audio/visual theatres, and attractive booth exhibitors stuffing the cavernous hall are filled with a palpable sense of excitement.

Speaking of throbbing masses, I have not yet attended the AVN Adult Expo, but parts of the CES show are facing directly across from the AVN exhibition hall at the Sands, and let’s just say it wasn’t hard to pick out its exhibitors and attendees. I found out that the show which has become the CES has been around for about 40 years, and up until 1999 it had an adult exhibition area. What is now the AVN Adult Expo split off from the CES when it outgrew its roots.

Nerds and porn stars may seem like strange bedfellows, but the porn industry has always been on the cutting edge of technology. From analog and digital distribution of movies, to online presentation of media and online marketing, pornography has continually pushed the technological envelope. During the infancy of the World Wide Web the porn industry was one of the areas, if not the only one, making consistently large profits.

Seeing the sheer size of the CES was overwhelming for this first-time attendee. I wandered over to some familiar names such as Intel, who were showing off their latest mobile-friendly microprocessors, and the various devices that they can be found within. I also stopped by the Case Logic exhibit where a friendly exhibitor demonstrated their new line of airport security-friendly laptop cases and luggage. These were neat because they would allow travelers to keep their laptops inside of their cases when sending them through X-Ray machines, and quickly grab the bags and move on, to be re-secured after finding a less busy resting area (like a seat at the departure gate). I can see this being huge for business travelers in particular. This one had a quick release cord to “snap” your laptop case back together, along with a sofa couch of padding to protect your wares:

The big “wow” for me today was the 3-D HDTV presentation from Panasonic. About 20 people were cramped into a hot and stuffy little box on the show floor, inside of which was a full 3-D home theater setup. We were all handed a pair of glasses that looked like the type grandma gets after her cataract surgery, and down came the lights. Soon after we were hit with a barrage of video that showed off the depth-creating technology, accompanied by booming bass and positional audio. Soccer players booted balls directly at our foreheads, Formula One racers ran over our feet, the Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremonies were recapped in stunning depth and glory, and scenes from current movies were played for us with the 3-D effect making us feel as though we were in the center of the action.

Though Panasonic was presenting this new technology, it is not a new type of HDTV or display. When the glasses were removed, we could see perfectly clear 2-D television (on the latest of Panasonic’s pretty plasma displays, of course). After talking with one of the reps I found out that the 3-D effect was indeed provided by the source, not the display, so having this tech won’t force us to buy new TVs, or require any investment from you and I, the consumer. The investment will be on the back-end.

Based on the clips I saw, I believe that this technology could usher in a new wave of games that will blow your socks off. Combined with the head tracking technology I saw recently using a Wiimote (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw), 3-D gaming has a very bright future.

That’s all for tonight, but I will have lots more for you tomorrow as I wade headfirst into the sea of showgoers.

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