LAS VEGAS—Amid steaming plates of international dishes, celebrity legend impersonators, and the somehow always orange-light-ambiance of Las Vegas ballrooms, hundreds of journalists got their first taste of the worlds largest consumer technology show, Consumer Electronics Show 2007, at CES Unveiled.
There were nearly 80 vendors crammed into the Marco Polo Ballroom at the Sands Convention Center showing off everything from Wow Wees frighteningly real animatronic Elvis head to new Ultra Wide Band Solutions.
On one aisle sat a $1,000 robot floor vacuum from Microbot, while across the way Celestron showed off a telephoto scope with a massive 24X lens and—oddly—only a 3.1-megapixel camera inside.
Elsewhere, Logitech showed off a brilliant 3.5-inch LCD screen on a remote control, of all things. Ultra Wide Band was in evidence at a number of tables, TD vision was making people dizzy with its 3D head-up display, and one small company called Emtrace had managed to take web-based widgets and put them in a physical desktop devices. All in all, the product and technology selection ranged for the ridiculous to the sublime.
Surveying the mob scene in front of him, CES founder Jack Wayman recalled how the first show in 1967 had 200 exhibitors total (CES 2007 will have 27,000) serving a $1 billion industry and 100,000 square feet of floor space in two New York City Hotels (this year there will be 1.7 million).
Wayman added that the big CE innovation that year was audio cassette tapes and the industry was celebrating the 1 million color television being sold at retail. It was also a time of transition, from tube-based electronics to the transistor.
The show and industry have come a long way since then, and both Wayman and his successor Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), noted the now-complete transition to digital and this years focus on conversion and connectivity.
Todays conversion, though, has less to do with feature mash-ups than the melding of technology content and services, said Shapiro.