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2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

Electronics show hails cutting-edge gadgets

CES Crowd
Las Vegas Consumer
Electronic Show crowd.

Gary Johnson, Bemidji Pioneer
Published Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Reprinted with permission of the Bemidji Pioneer

LAS VEGAS - Whether you consider yourself a “techie” or not, consumer electronics play a large role in our everyday lives.  It is not just those with mp3 players bluetoothing their latest digital music to their wireless headsets.  If you own a toaster, a television, or a telephone, you have been touched by this fast-paced, wildly innovative, and ever-changing industry.  One thought to everything you have that either has a battery or plugs in and you’ll get the idea.

The world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow began yesterday in Las Vegas where leaders in technology from all over the world have gathered to witness the industry’s latest innovations.  Nearly 3,000 exhibitors of high-tech devices are showcasing their hottest newest products, in hopes their gadget will be the next iPod.

CES Crowd
Lined up waiting for Bill Gates.

The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, is the annual production of the Consumer Electrics Association.  CES attracts the industry’s best, brightest, and biggest, who are all very eager to get their new devices in front of the estimated 140,000 attendees, 4,500 members of the media, and 2,200 industry/financial analysts.  Exhibitors know that this event represents a tremendous opportunity to launch their new product.  And they are not afraid to make the most of it.  Some of the “booths” are several football fields in size, with lights, sound, and Hollywood-style entertainment included.

An array of celebrities are here helping these technology companies pull out all the stops to promote their products.  They include Yoko Ono, Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Indy star Danica Patrick, NFL players Roger Craig and Randall Cunningham, actors Kevin Costner and Michael Douglas, and numerous musicians such as Mary J. Blige, and Dave Samuels.

CES Crowd
Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates, in his
final CES keynote speach.

Kicking off the event was Microsoft’s Chairman Bill Gates who, along with a team of the software giant’s marketing and technical talent, highlighted what they foresee in the next decade, the “second digital decade” as Gates described.  Gates, who has led off the last nine consecutive conferences with a keynote address, shared his final CES keynote with the thousands in attendance.  He announced that this would be his last CES keynote speech, as he is stepping down from his day to day leadership role at Microsoft this summer, but will remain as the corporation’s Chairman.  He shared with the large audience his vision for a future of technology where devices will empower users by having a better, more natural interface.  Up to this point most devices currently rely on keyboards and/or a mouse.  In the future he expects touch, speech, visual recognition, and gestures to be the common way we interact with our computers and phones.

Toshihiro Sakamoto, President, Panasonic; Jerry Yang, CEO and Chief Yahoo!, Yahoo! Inc.; and Paul Otellini, CEO, Intel Corporation were the keynote speakers Monday.

CES Crowd
The "iRobot Looj" gutter cleaner from
iRobot Corporation.

There are a multitude of devices being announced at the 2008 CES.  Whether you’re interested in home automation, audio and video devices, mobile electronics for you vehicle, or the latest wireless phone or accessory, you’ll find it here.  Looking for a birthday gift for someone who has everything?  Chances are they don’t have a robotic gutter cleaner yet.  The “iRobot Looj” from iRobot Corporation makes gutter cleaning safer and easier.  No more ladder repositioning, tool juggling, or dangerous heights.  It goes for $99.00.  But if price doesn’t matter,

CES Crowd
Panasonic's 150 inch plasma.

Panasonic boasts the world’s largest high-definition plasma display.  At 150 inches, this thing takes your breath away, not to mention your wallet.  Pricing has not yet been announced.

The 2008 CES runs through tomorrow.

Gary Johnson is Paul Bunyan Telephone's Chief Operating Officer.

He can be reached at CES at garyatces@paulbunyan.net