'Welcome to the Zoo' - Media rushes for tech sneak peek
Jan 6, 2008, 15:05 GMT
Workers set up television screens at the Samsung display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 05 January 2008. The CES will officialy open on 07 January 2008. EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT
Las Vegas - In a day or two, the lines for taxis at the Las Vegas Airport will make those of Disneyland look short.
But on Saturday, early arrivals at the Consumer Electronics Show were able to simply hop in a cab and cruise over to the Sands Expo Centre where an event called CES Unveiled got the ball rolling on the biggest consumer electronics show on the planet.
The convention, featuring over 2,700 exhibitors and 140,000 visitors including 25,000 from outside the US, officially opens on Monday morning.
But for 4,000 media correspondents, the news will be old by then. The CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Unveiled gives them a two day head start.
More importantly, it allows hundreds of companies eager to stand out from the crowd to attract early-bird journalists with a mixture of new products, gimmicks and a generous array of food and beer.
Most of the large companies stay away from this venue in favour of extravagant pavilions on the show floor which simply can't be ignored.
But for the smaller participants, the attraction seems to work. As the doors opened at 4 pm, journalsits waited in a a hundred-metre- long line. To ease the boredom, a violinist dressed in bizarre renaissance garb was on hand to serenade the hordes.
'Welcome to the Zoo,' said the first exhibitor as the throng of journalists barged through the door. Fittingly, the guy was from Yoggie Security. He was marketing a nifty device called a Gatekeeper, which is basically a tiny Linux computer that attaches to your main computer via a USB drive and manages all the firewall, antivirus, anti-malware and other security functions that usually hog resources.
Most journalists breezed right past him to tables piled high with fruits, meats, pizzas and deserts, or directly to the well- stocked bar. They then demonstrated a some of the essential prerequisites of a successful career in the technology media: the ability to listen, take notes and ask intelligent questions while holding a beer, a plate of food and an assortment of the fairly useless giveaway gadgets known in the trade as swag.
Some exhibits were clearly more impressive than others. One company, Viable, featured deaf presenters, extolling in sign language the virtues of their first-of-its-kind project, a videophone system designed especially for deaf people to use sign language in their communications.
The system features a dedicated button to alert an interpreter to sit in on the call to enable deaf people to communicate with those who don't speak sign language. Asked whether it wouldn't be easier to type, the presenter was adamant: 'No this is my first language,' he said through an interpreter. 'This is the easiest way for me.'
Pulse-Link had no need for gimmicks. The company boasts the world's fastest high-speed wireless chip which can stream high def TV pictures around the home at speeds of 1 gigabit per second. The company is starting alliances with major set manufacturers and expects to see it on the market in the second half of the year.
'How do you ensure you rise above the buzz?' the PR lady was asked.
'We don't rise above the buzz,' she shot back. 'We are the buzz.'
Less entrenched on the cutting edge were numerous companies featuring iPod accessories, including one that featured a lava lamp with integrated docking station.
Then there was a GPS tracking company offering a simple location device. The SPOT is designed for extreme sportsman embarking on adventures in areas where there's no cellphone coverage.
The company says the SPOT could mean the difference between life and death, or as its advertising material put it, 'the difference between going home in coach or cargo'.© 2008 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur