Small Clues To The Future - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
1/8/2008
10:55 AM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
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Small Clues To The Future

The Consumer Electronics Show is very good at big. It has halls of tradeshow booths as big as football fields, exhibitors showing off monster trucks with megawatt sound systems. But if you want to know what the future looks like, you can often learn more from the little things -- like the International Commerce Center, where small Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturers show their wares in a couple of hotel ballrooms as crowded and busy as a Hong Kong back street.

The Consumer Electronics Show is very good at big. It has halls of tradeshow booths as big as football fields, exhibitors showing off monster trucks with megawatt sound systems. But if you want to know what the future looks like, you can often learn more from the little things -- like the International Commerce Center, where small Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturers show their wares in a couple of hotel ballrooms as crowded and busy as a Hong Kong back street.Most of them are here looking for distributors or buyers, and most of their products are things you can't buy -- either they manufacture components (there are booths full just of cables, or laser-engraved faceplates) or they make products that aren't distributed yet in the U.S. But they make what consumers may buy from Bed, Bath and Beyond or NewEgg later this year or next, and they're very good at spotting trends.

There's lots of iPod docks, for example -- but fewer this year than last, which may indicate the iPod is running its course. What's new this year is an emphasis on video. As iPod screens get impossibly tiny, the International Center manufacturers are coming to the rescue to make video projectors a consumer item.




Here's next year's iPod dock: a video projector with an iPod connector.
Click to Enlarge

The Forever Plus Corp. came from Taipei to show several small personal projectors, including one not much bigger than a pack of cigarettes and another with a dock for an iPod Video Nano -- and the salesman demonstrated it by pointing it at the ceiling -- the way teenagers would use it, he said.

While video is on the rise music players are disappearing -- that is, they're being embedded in everything. Next year you won't need a player that will fit into a dock on a boom box or clock radio, all you'll need is your music files, and the media of choice seems to be the SD card.




This clock-radio cube dispenses with the iPod dock and has only an SD card slot in the top.
Click to Enlarge

My personal favorite was the Sound-Fly, an in-car gizmo from Gaon-InT Co., Ltd., of Incheon, Korea. It's an FM transmitter that plays your music through your cars FM radio, and it has three inputs. One is for legacy connectivity -- a connector cord that fits the headphone jack of your music player. The second is an SD card slot, and the third is a USB connector for a flash drive.




The Sound-Fly comes with a tiny remote control and tunes the entire FM band to make it easy to find a clear channel for your tunes.
Click to Enlarge

I liked this one so much I talked the booth people out of a sample and stuck it into my rental car. It worked like a charm. I loaded it up with a 2GB SD card of MP3 files and tuned it to 99.9, a flat spot on the Las Vegas dial. Sound quality is terrific and the remote traverses the multiple folders on the card neatly. It's a small thing, but it's the future.

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