On your marks....

  • Darren Waters
  • 4 Jan 07, 01:55 PM

The Consumer Electronics Show is a marathon run at the pace of a 100-metre sprint.

Each year more than 140,000 industry professionals - from engineers to analysts, and from buyers to sellers - gather in the desert in Nevada for a celebration of technology.


No-one doubts that the scale of the event is absurd - 2,700 exhibitors and tens of thousands of products spread over 3.2 million square feet and spilling over further to almost every hotel suite in the city.

But every major player in the consumer electronics world will be present and somewhere amidst the copycat products, the hair-brained ideas and the over-optimistic visionaries are products and trends which will dictate how we live our digital lives in the coming years.

Last year Google and Yahoo made waves at CES as they demonstrated the obvious - that gadgets without content, services or application are pretty useless. All too often at CES products are prematurely launched, offering little value to the ordinary consumer.

The themes of the digital home and the ubiquitous net made up of billions of connected devices from phones to PCs, fridges and TVs, as well as products taking advantage of high definition and wi-fi have been the talk of CES for many years and little will change this year.

In many ways CES is a mirror of the industry itself - a marathon full of competitors more suited to the sprint.

No-one really knows which products, which services and which models of consumption will emerge triumphant in the 21st Century - every one is gambling.

The conference launches officially on Monday but the event has gotten so big that pre-show events kick off on Saturday with a rota of press conferences, culminating in Microsoft boss Bill Gates delivering a keynote speech on Sunday.

In past years Gates has used his speech to unveil the Xbox, the Tablet PC and the eBook, three products with varying degrees of success. It goes to show that not even visionaries like Gates really know where the industry is heading.

Over the next week BBC News journalists will be trying to navigate this race but we want to hear about which products or ideas interest you most. What are the key issues for you? Is this orgy of consumerism a positive or negative influence in your life.

Feel free to comment.

Let the race begin.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 05:10 PM on 04 Jan 2007,
  • Geraint Williams wrote:

It will be interesting to see the reaction in Vegas after Steve Jobs has given his speech in San Francisco. Events might be overshadowed a little by the news from the west.....

  • 2.
  • At 09:21 AM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Stefan McCall wrote:

It goes to show that not even visionaries like Gates really know where the industry is heading.

He never really has, he completely dismissed the internet and missed the boat on digital music players.

  • 3.
  • At 10:38 AM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Max Wong wrote:

Robots, robots are the future of electronics. The current interests of Bill Gates and other high powered contemporary visionaries, they will become our personal computers, our music storage, our personal assistants, our drunk rides home, our shepards in the night, anything and everything one may possibly imagine. It's my personal belief that once plastic micro-processors and other polymer-based parts and accessories are perfected and produced to create fully functional robots efficiently and affordably they will be the fad of the future.

  • 4.
  • At 10:47 AM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Brian Boyes wrote:

Lets hope that this year will see a further inroad into the Microsoft Meglomania by separating out hardware & operating systems providers from software & content providers. May more of industy's established players support Open Source to allow our digital lives to be less tied to the visions of a few powerful individuals. May more manufacturers build dual standard machines for CDs, DVDs & HD, we, the consumers, then have real choice.

I would be more interested in seeing more efficient software and hardware and operating systems not more bloatware that negates any improvement in hardware. Gadgets that rely less on consuming valuable resources used in batteries and such, the more gadgets produced the more electricity needed or batteries used which then often end up in land fill.

  • 6.
  • At 11:12 AM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • flim wrote:

It will also be interesting to see which way the BluRay/HD DVD battle is swinging in this sector. Who's coming out with which format players, how many are launching dual format devices, etc.

  • 7.
  • At 11:26 AM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • CS Zeng wrote:

Very true, Gates is not quite the visionary. He generally follows the market and put products and services that are quite strong. Gates was late in the games consoles market too, but he is in most sectors where IT in some form is involved. Microsoft has enough resources to play in a number of sectors and like the Nomad project, isn't going to be a winner.

  • 8.
  • At 11:51 AM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • sundip wrote:

UWB is the future, this technology can be incorporated into any electronic device making wirless communications seamless. Finally we will see fully interconnecting devices in the home.

  • 9.
  • At 12:24 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Nicholas Cullum wrote:

Ref: Stefan McCall's comment: I was there with my son at the Science Museum (1994?) the day before Bill went back to Redmond and reversed the internet error. I'm not saying it was because of the question I got Thomas to ask...

  • 10.
  • At 12:24 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Saurman wrote:

Sauron got his hands on the Palantir of Minas Ithil and used it to corrupt Saruman who had the Palantir of Orthanc and Denethor who had the Palantir of Minas Tirith.

  • 11.
  • At 12:29 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Alexander wrote:


The show is a world's supermaket of e-technologies where the upper hand is gained by His majesty Consumer. It is not professional to state that the leaders of the industry merely do not which direction to take. Using modern interactive investigation techniques will make it for a marketer a matter of a day to analyse the demand in the target market.

Alexander Lutsenko, business consultant
Ukraine's IT leading company Softline

  • 12.
  • At 01:26 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Phil Jones wrote:

I would like to see the reaction to a rare bit of UK technology, NXT's flat speaker systems and Balanced Mode Radiator technology. Now being used in Toyota & Citroen cars, as well as Bombadier aircraft.

Big it up for a UK product !

  • 13.
  • At 01:35 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • HamsterWheel wrote:

How about a British spin ?
UK company NXT, who make flat panel speaker technology, are at CES. The Beeb should pop along to their public press session and see what Brit-tech is up to !

  • 14.
  • At 02:51 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Antony Hutton wrote:

Oh please not another Apple/Microsoft free advertiseing shindig!

Many UK comps will be thier showing unique, often groundbreaking technology and they will be lucky to get any colunm inches let alone the miles Gates and Jobs will get for releasing......very little indeed.

The BBC prides itself on fair coverage so lets make the 2007 CES show coverage just that!


  • 15.
  • At 02:52 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • thescoop wrote:

Absolutely, Radio4's very own 'In Business' had a programme devoted to NXT about 5 years ago. It would be great to hear how they have developed their technology since then.

  • 16.
  • At 03:18 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Robin of Loxley wrote:

Good point re the NXT speakers, BMR is the future. This company has a number of exciting areas of development dont they, eg those Dispersive Signal Technology next generation touch screens? Will we get to see their latest applications of their ground breaking technology on Auntie Beeb? Is the show going to be covered with a special programme or business report? If so, can you let us know when its going out - Vegas is a bit far to travel. Any other british companies attending?

  • 17.
  • At 03:52 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • David Bellamy wrote:

Interesting article, however do not get carried away with the American flavour of the event. In this country the American word 'gotten' needs translation.
Ask John Humphrys, he will tell you why.

  • 18.
  • At 04:21 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Mary-Ann wrote:

re: Other British companies attending - I know DisplayLink will be there, and I'm sure there are lots of others too.

  • 19.
  • At 04:51 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Alexis Terry wrote:

Gates commented before on how complicated computers still are for the average consumer. Lets see how Microsoft, Apple & the rest are handling this. I also hope to see more things to make connecting devices easier on networks.


  • 20.
  • At 06:21 PM on 05 Jan 2007,

The CES show is a place for the high and mighty to show off their next product to try and dominate the market. However i think the real star of the show will be electronic paper. Successful products are not just defined on how easy they organise our music library, or have the latest intel chips inside them. Electronic paper is going to pave the way to reduce destroying our planet and within time, reduce the need for paper. Anyone who has any knowledge of the types of tech on the market can imagine how 'e paper' will revolutionise the way we work by combining such tech as wi-fi, touch screen and a whole host of others. Just imagin a PDA the thickness of the e paper that has been displayed already. And this isn't even in mass production yet. As soon as the market picks up, parts drop in price, and more and more firms apply the use of this (including clothing) then the options are seemingly endless. The ability to manufacture clothes with flexible plastic woven inside just gives an indication into colour changing garments, finger nails, wigs, shoes, socks? Watch out, e-paper is going to pave the way we live in the future!!!!!!

  • 21.
  • At 10:31 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Stuart Halliday wrote:

The new products to look out for are not DVD discs and HD displays.

Look for LED lighting.

LED lighting look like being huge in this and the following years as designers look at making new types of lamps for us to buy.

These electronic gadgets will be able to change colour at the turn of a switch to suit our moods, and will eventually replace ceilings tiles as it keeps getting cheaper. Which will lead to them providing images as well as just bright light.

I can see a day not too far away when the entire wall will be your TV set. Not a clumsy panel.

2009 will be the day existing GPS gadget owners in the UK will dread. It's the year Gailieo, the EU GPS system comes online and will make all the existing system obsolete over night.
Then we'll have decent, accurate GPS phones able to find our location (even indoors) to within 5 meters.

  • 22.
  • At 12:15 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew Norris wrote:

As with any invention it's vital that you check it out in the early stages. You have to be pretty hard on yourself as it will save you at lot of time.

  • 23.
  • At 01:23 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Carl Thompson wrote:

Mr. Wong uses "fad" to describe Robots. They will far surpass fad status, in fact have done so years ago, but I agree that they will become more and more important each year for the next few decades. On the other hand "speech recognition" has held the "coming soon" cup to my personal knowledge since he mid 1960's. This could be the year.

My perception for the HIGH STAKES in the next days is the battle between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. The deciding persons are Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The future of Home Entertainment will be decided in CES.

Interesting to note that open source technology isn't mentioned much in these articles. Has it really become irrelevant or is this an example of the writers only looking at hype and ignoring the less fascinating, yet more important aspects of technology?

  • 26.
  • At 03:05 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

The loudspeaker has hardly changed over its lifetime, but there is a technology to replace it, and it can use almost any flat panel to make the sound (like car ceiling liners,door panels,aircraft wall panels,television surrounds,mobile phone screens,tiles etc.) and it has a very clear sound.This technology is by a British company called NXT, they will be at CES. It would be good to see a feature on this on TV as its something the Brits can boast about.

  • 27.
  • At 04:32 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • MK Paul wrote:

Ah, rural England. When I asked for a cream tea at a cafe in Princetown, the waiting staff were busily debating megapixels and and firewires for digital photography.

  • 28.
  • At 08:13 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • B Bull wrote:

2,700 exhibitors - Wow!

As good a way as any for the BBC to find interest amongst all of those is to focus on 'Brit-tech'.

And given the comments here, I want to know more about these NXT speakers - sound interesting to me (excuse the pun).

  • 29.
  • At 02:17 AM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Michele Sanderson wrote:

I hope more ULTRA MOBILE PC's are brought to the public marketplace. For instance the Oragami by Samsung THANK YOU

  • 30.
  • At 08:24 AM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

"Over the next week BBC News journalists will be trying to navigate this race but we want to hear about which products or ideas interest you most. What are the key issues for you?"

I know this is a bit of an exageration, as 'content' does not equate solely to entertainment, but the plentiful comment about 'content' tends to lead us down the route of thining that technology today is all about entertainment.

Why not look for the 2007 equivalent of, say, the vacuum cleaner or the microwave: technology that makes our day-to-day lives easier, or saves us money?

What can remind me that an item of food in my fridge is about to go off?

How can I make a phone call from abroad without being robbed blind by my operator?

How can I add another computer to my home WiFi network without wanting to strangle the person who designed the so-called user interface?

How can I stop 80% of my email being spam?

  • 31.
  • At 08:45 PM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

//Is this orgy of consumerism a positive or negative influence in your life.//

Yeah. Without a big trust fund allotting me allowance, and nor that 8 dollars an hr part time job .. life is a grim place for the odd teen... The ipod nano. Then the 80 GBs.. then the motoKrazr.. my laptop is outdated.. man the ps2 slimline.. ugh gr... and I dont know if my parents will consider a year or two leeway time to replace this stuff with the new n happening.

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