The CES superpowers

CES attendees wearing 3D glasses watch TV wall

The doors opened, and a huge crowd of geeks surged through, grabbing a pair of 3D glasses to view the giant LG 3D cinema display at the entrance, then fanning out in search of something new.

And as we made our way through the crush to try to get some shots for a TV news piece, it was difficult to spot standout products that weren't new televisions or convertible laptops.

But three giant stands each told a different tale about where the superpowers of consumer electronics are heading.

All conquering Samsung

Samsung's smart hub at CES

The Samsung stand appears even bigger and more lavish than ever, with deep pile carpet and a rolling ribbon of video display all around the walls. Apparently it took a month to build, and it is more evidence that the Korean giant is now the biggest noise at CES. That was certainly the theme at the firm's press conference, where executive after executive took to a stage in a vast Las Vegas ballroom and trumpeted the firm's dominance in the smartphone and smart television markets.

That event before the show opened did however lack something - a sense of humour and a little bit of humility. And on its giant stand it was hard to spot anything really groundbreaking - we enjoyed the 3D television that allows two viewers to watch different programmes at the same time, but struggled to see it finding a place in many living-rooms. Samsung looks unbeatable right now, but things change very rapidly in this industry - as one of its CES neighbours knows all too well.

Sony searches for wow

Sony Xperia Z smartphones

Sony's stand a few feet away certainly feels rather more modest than in recent years - but then the Japanese company has had plenty to be modest as it acknowledged in an unusually frank press conference, where the accent was on putting back the "wow" into its products. Sony has the engineering expertise to do that - but is its new smartphone really going to stand out from the crowd?

The Xperia Z is big and handsome, but is the fact that you can safely drop it in the bath really going to win over the Samsung Galaxy S3 crowd? The 4K television screens on the stand provide remarkable pictures, but Sony's big push to be the leading player in this new high definition format will be expensive and may not pay off for years. In the meantime, it's still looking for a product that will do what the Walkman and the PlayStation did - define a whole new consumer experience.

Intel and interfaces

Intel's booth at CES

In the absence of Microsoft, Intel's stand was the place to go for a view of what Windows 8 was doing for devices. All manner of touchscreen, convertible, flippable, giant screen, small screen portable computers were on display - but nothing really stood out. Then we were led backstage to a private room for a demo of what Intel calls "perceptual computing". Its research teams have been at work exploring new ways of interacting with screens - and what they showed me certainly had the "wow" factor.

An eye-tracking device allowed me to spot Wally in a Where's Wally book - and the page flipped over. I clapped my hands in front of another screen and created the universe in big bang moment, then manipulated the solar system in godlike fashion, expanding and contracting it between my palms. All good fun - but my guide, the Intel executive Mooly Eden insists that five years from now this kind of technology will have transformed the way we use computers. We'll have a video of that demo up later this week.

Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Personal trainers are for those that can't think for themselves and who need someone physical to keep them at it... They have all the tech at their disposal but no clue how to use it properly....hence the need for a PT.
    Best thing to do is not allow yourself to get in such poor shape in the first place... Probably all got fat watching their new Smart TVs !!!
    Common sense seems absent today

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    @ 19 That should, of course, have been 'Industrial REVOLUTION'.:)

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    People only get replaced with tech when it is possible. I still go to a barber, my food is still brought to my table by waiting staff, and people will still go to human personal trainers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    18. Aidy

    I only said PT's because of all the arm-waving involved: I was being flippant:)

    But if it's not PT's it'll be someone else.

    The general trend since the Industrial Evolution has consistently been to replace human jobs with tech. And if gyms with virtual instructors were cheaper, then the public will vote with their wallets, as they always do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    People want bus conductors but that isn't under their control. They don't want weavers, they want cheap clothes.

    People want human personal trainers and if the gym supplies electronic ones, they'll hire PTs from outside the gym (PTs cost regardless). Gyms will cotton on that they are losing money when forcing something on people that is within their control, and go back to human PTs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    @16. Aidy

    "Why will *any* tech replace personal trainers?"

    To save/make more money of course. Why pay trainers, when the gym can install virtual instructors, that require no salary, no food, no time off, no holidays, no insurance etc? Yes, the consumer loses out, but when did that stop anyone? Remember bus conductors? Weavers? If they can replace someone with tech, they will.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    @Graphis #13

    > The days of the personal trainer/gym instructor are numbered.

    I don't understand this obsessive glee in the destruction of all things personal and human. Why will *any* tech replace personal trainers? As well as being a rapid source of context sensitive information, a PT provides motivation, something a computer will never manage to do. A computer can be simply

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    @Yathushan #12

    Steam had a huge impact on console gaming when it was released 10 years ago. By Microsoft. Called XBOX.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Why did someone mark that comment down?
    Steam is still quite unknown to console gamers, but it's set to become a household name as it brings PC gaming to the family TV.
    On the other hand it does look as though it could bring more screaming and cheating kids into PC gaming too, which really is the last thing anyone needs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    @4. _Ewan_

    Not offices perhaps, but certainly in gyms! The days of the personal trainer/gym instructor are numbered.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    No mention of the steambox what so ever! That will probably have huge implications in the gaming world later on this year.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Well, that was... rather uninformative. I'm not sure I like 'almost' personification of corporations.

    Anyway, I see CES as being less relevant. I think for the large companies, the risk of being drowned in the new technology is too great when they can afford to put on their own events.

    @Martin White
    It's almost a standard in Japan; has been so for a long time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    7.Michael Kipp

    Try reading a book or listening to the radio the pictures are so much better.

    Only those with a completely undeveloped imagination need the stupid wastes of money that you talk about so highly!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    In all honesty...I find Mr.Jones inability to put across a really good rundown on tech quite unnerving. There is so much tech in tech, that some data, facts and figures are always welcomed by the ardent enthusiast. Unfortunately, in all my time reading his articles, I have yet to find a single one that actually informs me of anything new. C'mon BBC,get someone in who REALLY knows their stuff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    When eye tracking, gesture and voice recognition and augmented reality converge we will see home entertainment like never before. Imagine fully immersive gaming and HD 3D TV of the future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Tell me are there yet any dining room TVs that have two screens showing the same picture and a single sound source?

    (So those seated on both sides of a dining table can see the picture during meals.)

    We have to get devices that re-establish family dining again!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    "the 3D television that allows two viewers to watch different programmes at the same time"

    Hmmm.. with the price of Flat screen TVs having dropped though the floor, I suspect this tech is the answer to a question very few consumers are actually asking...


  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    "Intel executive Mooly Cohen insists that five years from now this kind of technology will have transformed the way we use computers"

    With this sort of stuff, you've always got to ask yourself what happens if you try using it all day in your office - eye tracking probably passes, waving your arms around and clapping, probably not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    "the 3D television that allows two viewers to watch different programmes at the same time"

    I just had a "why didn't I think of that?" moment :)

    Ironically I was reading another blog today that was proclaiming the lack of 3D tech as evidence that the technology is finally dead and that the people have spoken.


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