CES 2012 – Armageddon Year?

CES 2012 – Armageddon Year?

According to the Mayans the calendar comes to an end this year.  Does this mean the world ends?  Probably not.  But maybe they were thinking of CES.

This year CES was like others prior in that there’s a constant barrage of new products on display, and an even greater number of products that were there the year before, but they’re still trying hard to push them out to distributors.  Some things like the cap bill-mounted television (AKA TV Hat) never seem to die despite the fact we’ve never seen one in the wild, other than on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

Gadgets flooded the show, but innovation seemed to be less present than before.  Perhaps the Mayans saw this coming, that the path of innovation would someday reach this moment when the really big inventions were all done, and we were left with the corner cases.  Places where the big announcement requiring Secret Service-like security is the announcement of a dancing subwoofer by Justin Beiber.  Really??

Is this what the future holds for us when the calendar runs out?

On to the rest of the show, and things that caught my eye:

Solowheel

Here’s an interesting product.  Think of it as a Segway with only one wheel and no T-bar handle.  Or a unicycle without a seat or pedals.  Either way, it’s a battery-powered personal transporter.  Although described as for urban use, every photograph on the web site shows it with no other people around. This might be related to the fact that the saleswoman at the booth said I’d need 45-minutes of training to ride one.  Regardless, it’s interesting, but at $1,800 maybe a bit pricey for most folks.

Alternative input devices seemed to be a trend this year.  Many booths demonstrated gestural controls using Kinect-like monitoring systems.  Alas, most were using the gestures to drive video games rather than get “real” work done.  Still, these systems looked fun, though I have to wonder how they’ll sort between the gestures we intend for the television from the ones we intend for the dog standing in front of it.

Multiple companies were demonstrating eye gaze control.  One example was tobii which had the classic Asteroids game driven by not a joystick, but by simply looking at the target.

Alas, I was unable to play as it said my eyes “failed calibration.”  Maybe I need to check in with my optometrist.

Everyone continues to try to ride the coattails of the iPad/iPhone/iAppleSomething craze.  With record numbers of these expensive devices sold, it’s no wonder that there’s a huge accessory market.

Some companies stay generic, suggesting they can do most anything by their name:

Others were just excited to be there even if they weren’t iSomething

iBallz is one of the more interesting ones.  In short, they took some old tennis balls destined to be trailer hitch covers or dog toys, cut slots in them, and stuck them on the corners of the iPad and voila!  drop protection was born on the cheap.

Then there was the Stump.

At first I couldn’t tell if she was trying to draw me into a car wash or direct me to a sale at the local fast food place.

No, it turns out this is a stand for your iPad/iPhone.

What a great business!  These things must cost pennies to make, and they sell for $24.95.  No firmware to update, no cables to break, just good old fashioned “rubber-like material” like Mom used to make.  Gotta luv their tag-line: “Simple by Design”.

[Update 2012-0130: Here’s one fan’s review of the Stump.]

One cannot forget the animals when at CES, as there’s a place there for all creatures and we don’t want to leave any left unserved:

Seems to be some rivalry between the savanna residents

And for Fluffy:

Or for the “dogs” in the house:

But apparently things were too dry in the desert for the aquatic options as this group was a no-show:

But not too warm to leverage the penguins:

And for this booth I can’t help but wonder that I didn’t have the correct decryption key for my eyes so I could actually see the contents of their booth.  Sneaky!

So many gadgets, but so little true innovation to be seen this year.  Perhaps, while most of us were using our iPhone walking the floor, what we were really thinking was best illustrated by this baby monitor’s poster:

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