Three keynotes, three stories
I kicked off my CES hearing Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally talk loosely and repeatedly about innovation. It was comparable to a behemoth company in a staid industry that notoriously stymies innovation telling a different, highly innovative industry that, what do you know, innovation is essential. Actually, it wasn’t comparable to that. It was that.
Takeaway: Apparently there’s a revolution going on, and it has something to do with a Ford Taurus and hands-free parallel parking.
Intel’s Paul Otellini closed out Wednesday with show-and-tell. He showed us how to shoot 3D home movies, that my clothes will apparently be chosen by an in-store computer and that someday everything really will be connected … in 3D. Basically, 3D will save the tech world—the more complex the content, the more processing power needed.
Takeaway: The revolution will require a lot of processors.
Best in show goes to Nokia’s Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. In a nutshell: The developing nations have different needs than the developed world. If we continue to throw the same gadgets (mobile phones in Nokia’s case) designed for customers in Tokyo at customers in Kandahar, nothing good will come of it. Bad business is bad for people. Good business is good for people.
Takeaway: If we don’t listen to the people, there really will be a revolution.
It was hard to tell at times, but sustainability is on the mind of the industry. Several key players devoted whole sections of their booths to eco-conscious solutions. The catch is that these “green” displays were all too often about potential solutions and not about real products. It’s great that a company, Panasonic for instance, has developed super-light, energy-saving insulation. But what does that mean if it’s not being used in any products? It’s especially deflating when, just five feet over, the TV exhibit is sapping enough juice to power a small planetary system.
There were a few companies with interesting eco products, though. My fave: Miniwiz. Their portable, compact solar- and wind-powered chargers looked both useful and, more importantly, cool. They get added points for their Solarbulb, a gadget that stores and then uses solar power to act as a lamp and a water sterilizer.
Takeaway: Energy efficiency is cool, but nobody is doing anything revolutionary, especially compared with those awesome 3D TVs.
Did I mention 3D?
CES’s main message was basically this: 3D TV is real, it’s here and it’s pretty amazing, regardless that it’s expensive and there’s hardly any 3D content and you have to wear goofy, disorienting glasses. I couldn’t really tell one 3D TV apart from another 3D TV. What made the biggest difference was what the TV was showing. Nature docs and movies? Meh. Sports and video games? OMG. And I wasn’t alone in this reaction. Any 3D TV showing mountains and underwater scenes had a handful of viewers. Those with 3D sports or video games could have been mistaken for Lady Gaga from all the attention they got.
Takeaway: The revolution will be televised … in 3D.