Consumer Electronics Show 2013

ces-2012-logo

by Brandon Elliott Buell

On Jan. 11, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas presented many new products to drool over.

The CES is an annual event where companies show off their greatest products and latest technology. The products range from the usual announcement of new televisions and phones to the demonstration of revolutionary car applications and household products. The list of newly announced products is endless.

Here are some of the highlights of CES:

Microsoft

Microsoft gave CES attendees a glimpse of what gaming will be like in the future. This project, dubbed “Xbox IllumiRoom,” sees Microsoft aiming to end the limitation of the gaming environment to a single TV screen by transforming gamers’ surroundings into an alternate reality.

According to Microsoft’s research page, Xbox IllumiRoom uses already existing Kinect technology combined with a projector to “change the appearance of the room, induce apparent motion, extend the field of view and enable entirely new game experiences.” For example, if you are playing a game that has snow falling, the projector will show snow falling in your living room. If you are playing the popular game Call of Duty, the environment will extend to the walls on your sides, giving the gamer a peripheral-like view.

Check out the promo video and see what it’s all about.

Steam

Any fans of Skyrim, the Half-Life series or the Portal Series? If you are a fan, you are likely playing them on Valve’s gaming client, Steam, on your Mac, PC or Linux machines.

Playing games on a laptop or desktop allows users to take their games almost anywhere: the library, the Grind or even class. Without the right connections, the one drawback is the inability to fully enjoy those games on a big-screen TV. In an attempt to change this, Valve has partnered with mini PC maker Xi3 to produce a computer dedicated to the Steam environment.

The aim is to bring the gaming atmosphere from the computer to the living room, allowing gameplay on high definition TVs. According to Engadget, Valve’s hardware engineer Daniel Keyzer stated there will be a variety of systems to match each gamer’s style. “It’s going to be different things for different people. We’re interested in investigating an ecosystem of devices that don’t necessarily have to share a common spec,” said Keyzer.

There is no release date set, but these devices could create competition for the Wii, Xbox and Playstation systems.

Image courtesy of Polygon.com

Touch Screens

In today’s mobile phone market, touch screens are the norm. When the iPhone was first released in 2007, people were skeptical of an all-touch screen phone. Research in Motion’s Blackberry line was still popular and many were reluctant to give up their trusty keyboards for touch-based typing.

Now the market has flipped, making touch screens the norm while RIM is on the outside looking in. While touch screens have greatly improved over the years, some users still want tactile feedback when they type.

To answer this demand, a company called Tactus Technology is aiming to bring back tactile typing. At CES, Tactus Technology demoed their improved tactile technology for touch screen phones.

The company’s new product, Tactus, is a thin film that resembles a screen protector and fits over the device. When the user wants to type, the thin film is filled with fluid, which raises button-like bumps on the phone’s display, allowing the user to type with a tactile response. When they are done typing, the bumps deflate and the screen returns to normal.

Check out the promo video from Tactus Technology’s page to see how it works:

Phones

New phones are generally announced during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona each year. But at CES, companies were showing off some of their new phones. However, one company is aiming to transform their phone into a desktop.

Companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft have different software for their respective devices. Apple has OSX for their computers and iOS for the iPhones and iPads. Google has Android mobile software and Chrome OS for computers, and Microsoft has Windows 8, while Windows RT is for tablets and Windows phone. Each system has similarities and yet still depends on separate software for each device. A company named Canonical is aiming to use one software for all devices.

Canonical is the financial backer and maintainer of the popular open source Linux distribution, Ubuntu. Although it has its hiccups, Ubuntu does fulfill the needs of its users. The best part is that it is completely free.

Canonical is using that same software (Ubuntu) and installing it on phones, giving it a desktop-like experience. It is an all-touch gesture device, meaning no buttons, making more room for apps on the screen. The kicker: if the phone meets the requirements, then when the phone is docked it becomes a full-fledged desktop running both desktop and mobile apps. The user can call and text while the phone is docked. When the phone is not docked, they can still use the desktop and mobile apps.

For example if the device is playing a video, it can be docked and continue playing without interruption. The phone, however, will not be released until next year, but users of the Samsung Nexus can download the Android version in February.

Promo video for Ubuntu for Android:

 

Ubunut OS in action, Courtesy of Engadget:

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