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Senior Editor

CES 2006: Can you see the future here?

Jan 04, 20064 mins
MobileNetwork SecuritySmall and Medium Business

You can see the future at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. You just have to look carefully and ignore the distractions, not to mention the technotrash, which range from a lineup of NFL quarterbacks to armchair recliners wired into gaming consoles.

You can see the future at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. You just have to look carefully and ignore the distractions, not to mention the technotrash, which range from a lineup of NFL quarterbacks to armchair recliners wired into gaming consoles (see more CES coverage).

For enterprise network professionals, CES is a kind of yearly laboratory to test the hype around emerging wireless technologies and the applications touted for them, especially around mobility and personal data.

CES defines “innovations” broadly, as one can see from this year’s list of innovations awards.

One winner, from Powergrid Fitness, is Exer-station, which “transforms game play into muscle burning sport.” Through “health-conscious controller,” you wrestle a 3-foot joystick linked to your Xbox or other game console.

A nation of couch potatoes transformed into Incredible Hulks.

And Jasco Products won for the GE Mobile 2.1 Digital Speaker, which actually consists of a subwoofer with two satellite speakers linked via retractable cables, and – here’s where the “mobile” part comes in – a travel case.

Carry an entire surround-sound system around with you.

But other innovations ring true, and suggest some of the ways wireless, silicon and software are creating new opportunities and new meaning for an increasingly digital world.

Satellite communications, once exotic and costly, are becoming almost commonplace. Samsung Electronics is honored for the YM-P1 Multimedia Player, which sounds like a yawner except for the fact this pocketsized device is the first to include an interface to satellite TV signals. Sort of like DirectTV meets the PDA.

RaySat made the innovations list for its RaySat SpeedRay 3000. This is a low-profile, roof-mounted enclosed antenna that turns any vehicle into a wireless hotspot: a Wi-Fi wireless LAN connection supports laptops, PDAs and other local clients, and a satellite link for Internet access and satellite TV and music channels.

Users’ rising interest in new, high-speed cellular services is reflected in Samsung Telecommunications’ winning entry: the SCH-i730, a handheld running Microsoft Windows Mobile Pocket PC operating system, with a built-in EVDO cellular interface. It has hidden, full QWERTY keyboard. EVDO along with Citrix Presentation Server is fast enough to let you work wirelessly and securely with your corporate applications from anywhere you can pick up the carrier’s signal.

Ace Computers offers the Ace LHD Limited Professional Media Server, modeled more after a high-end audio system than a data center server. But it includes a 7-inch LCD touchscreen, a dual-core processor, and, astonishingly, a 3-terabyte RAID storage system. It includes a DVD burner supporting several popular formats, including Blu-Ray, supports four TV tuners (two of them high-definition), and Bluetooth to wirelessly connect a keyboard and mouse.

It’s not the system that enterprises will routine deploy, but it gives an idea of how digital audio and video could become routine in an array of applications.

Just how pervasive Wi-Fi is becoming is clear from Eastman Kodak’s winner: the Kodak EasyShare-one digital camera, which claims to be the first with a built-in Wi-Fi interface. Digitized images can be wirelessly transferred, projected, incorporated with other data, stored, and printed.

Leadtek’s XTP8721 is a set-top box that marries cable TV connectivity with support for IPTV, VoIP, analog voice, Internet access, and video streaming.

Two other areas to watch at the show involve emerging wireless LAN technologies. One is IEEE 802.15.4, a standard for low-power short-range radios that create a wireless mesh to link sensors and other small devices. Another is Ultra WideBand, which can transmit hundreds of megabits per second over a wide swath of spectrum for distances of a few meters. Both will featured at CES, the former in demonstrations of wireless home and building management system, the latter in digital video streaming or wireless peripheral connections via “wireless USB” between a PC and plasma screens and other devices.

Senior Editor

I cover wireless networking and mobile computing, especially for the enterprise; topics include (and these are specific to wireless/mobile): security, network management, mobile device management, smartphones and tablets, mobile operating systems (iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10), BYOD (bring your own device), Wi-Fi and wireless LANs (WLANs), mobile carrier services for enterprise/business customers, mobile applications including software development and HTML 5, mobile browsers, etc; primary beat companies are Apple, Microsoft for Windows Phone and tablet/mobile Windows 8, and RIM. Preferred contact mode: email.

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