CES Hangover: What You Might Have Missed

Published on January 17, 2012
by Lauren Goode

The Consumer Electronics Show is over. We came, we saw, we conquered … but we couldn’t possibly write about every one of the more than 20,000 products showcased in Las Vegas last week. Here are a handful that stood out at the show:

Nintendo Wii U
The gaming company didn’t have a spot on the show floor at CES, but Nintendo offered private demos of its upcoming Wii U console, the successor to the popular Nintendo Wii.

The “new Wii” comes with a 6-inch tablet-like motion sensor control that offers a full touchscreen and alternative views of the game being played on the TV set. While using a larger controller to play games might seem cumbersome at first, the interactive options it adds can be fun. The new console also works with the standard Wii controllers, as well as the Wii Nunchuk and Balance Board. It supports 1080p HD output, and the games in the demo were remarkably crisp and clear.

But there are still more questions than answers about the Wii U. Its launch date is still pegged to sometime in the later part of the year, but exactly when and how much it will cost is still unknown. And while Nintendo was the front-runner in motion-sensor gaming with the Wii, Xbox Kinect, in the meantime, has been setting new gaming-console standards with its gesture-control technology, content partnerships and even basic voice command.

When asked about content partnerships in the works, Nintendo declined to comment on any specifics. As for voice-recognition technology, Nintendo also declined to say whether it would be added to the Wii U prior to launch; the company did point to some audio capabilities built into the tablet-like controller, and said it is exploring all kinds of possibilities right now.

Samsung Dual-View 3-D OLED TV
That’s quite a mouthful for a television set, so let’s simplify it: This is a TV that lets you watch two programs at the same time on the same screen — and not by creating separate boxes within the screen. Instead, users wear active-shutter 3-D glasses, and each wearer has a different 2-D image projected to them, or even a different TV show or movie.

What about audio, you ask? Good question: The audio for each program is streamed right through the glasses, so you’ll hear your own program, while your significant other sitting on the other side of the couch will hear his or her choice of entertainment.

A dual-view screen has a certain appeal for gamers, and both Sony and LG have introduced such screens for gaming purposes.

For the average TV watcher, this is notably both high-tech and isolating.

LG’s Blast Chiller
You might have heard about this one by now. We still think it’s cool, no pun intended.

It was apparent at this year’s CES show that appliance makers think we want fridges that tweet and washing machines that send messages to smartphones when the laundry is done. While interconnectivity within the home is still in its teenage — if not even earlier — stages, there was one feature of LG’s refrigerators that seemed quite smart: The Blast Chiller is a compartment that chills cans of soda or beer in about five minutes, and can cool down a larger bottle of wine in about eight minutes. It will be available in LG’s new line of refrigerators — price is unknown, but current models cost around $2,500. The Blast Chiller was definitely a favorite with conference-goers — likely because, by the end of the week, many may have wanted a cold beverage.

Corning Gorilla Glass, the Sequel
You might wonder where glass fits in at a tech show, but this isn’t just any soda-lime glass: It’s the ultra-thin, chemically strengthened Gorilla Glass that forms the displays of many smartphones and tablets, and even coats some laptops. Last week, Corning showed off Gorilla Glass that was 20 percent thinner and just as durable (which I was unable to break with a metal stick, as you can see from the photo here, although you might not want to use my arm strength as your gauge).

Gorilla Glass can be used to create stronger, brighter product displays, the company said. Last year, Corning had also said that it believed the future of glass was “3-D” or flexible glass that can be used in different form factors, including keyboards and kitchen countertops. At CES, the company showed how Gorilla Glass 2 can be used in home appliances and dashboard display systems.

Sleeper Pick: “The Patch”
As anticipated, armbands, accelerometers, exercise gear and health-and-fitness-focused apps dominated the digital-health section of CES this year (and even Jawbone’s UP armband made an appearance). But if you’re not ready for a full-time commitment to some of these devices, BodyMedia and Avery Dennison have come up with a temporary adhesive patch to test your resolve. Meant to be worn on the back of the left tricep for up to seven days, the patch combines the sensors of BodyMedia armbands with Avery Dennison’s wearable tech to aid in weight-loss management.

The patch is still awaiting U.S. regulatory clearance, so it may not be available until the third quarter of the year, or later. I’m told it will be less expensive than BodyMedia’s armbands, which run from $150 to $179 (and now work in conjunction with a new digital-wellness platform from fitness guru Jillian Michaels.)

But in future-form, a potentially inexpensive, disposable patch that has some of the same sensory capabilities of an armband could be an interesting fitness “gadget”: Slap it on, forget it’s there while you exercise, save the data and throw it out.

(Blast Chiller photo courtesy of Flickr/LGEPR)


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