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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 13:00 GMT
Showcase for future gadgets
CES graphic, BBC
CES: Focus on digital entertainment
Alfred Hermida

Some of the latest hi-tech gadgets that will be appearing in the shops over the coming year are going on show in the largest consumer technology event in the world.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, US, brings together 2,000 exhibitors and more than 100,000 attendees.

The event will showcase the latest innovations in digital video and audio, wireless communications, mobile electronics and the internet.

Many companies are looking to use CES as a means of reviving consumer interest in new gadgets, following poor sales in 2001.

The show, which runs from 8 Tuesday until 11 Thursday January, starts with a keynote speech by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates on the eve of the event.

Wired lifestyle

The main theme of the show is the bringing together of computers and consumer electronic products, seen as the Holy Grail by many technology companies.

Convergence, convergence, convergence. It's still the champ

David Carnoy, Cnet
"Convergence, convergence, convergence. It's still the champ," says David Carnoy of Cnet, the technology industry information network.

He expects much of the buzz of the show to focus on digital home entertainment products that tie together the home stereo, TV, and broadband internet connectivity.

So far, technology companies have failed to come up with products that bring together computers, video, music and the internet in a simple way that is accessible to the entire family.

Digital entertainment

One of the most anticipated announcements at CES is from the start-up company Rearden Steel, which is expected to launch a product for the home entertainment market.

Details are shrouded in secrecy, but reports suggest the company is working on combining elements of television, the internet and video games into a single entertainment system

Samsung's DVD L100, Samsung
DVD players becoming smaller
Rearden Steel was set up two years ago by Steve Perlman, who is best known for launching WebTV, which he sold to Microsoft in 1997 for an estimated $500m.

Digital entertainment will be a major part of the show, with the focus on interactive gaming, digital audio and technological imaging advances

"High-end electronics, such as high definition TVs and home DVD recorders, will come down in price, while maturing technologies, such as digital cameras and digital audio players, will get smaller and more feature-rich," predicts Mr Carnoy.

Tackling terror with technology

CES is taking place in the shadow of the 11 September attacks.

Wherify GPS locator for children, Wherify
Locate your children via GPS
Security has been tightened at the Las Vegas Convention Center for the event and a special conference is being held on how technology can help fight conventional and cyber-based terrorism.

There will also be more than 100 companies showcasing products to members of the intelligence community, Department of Defense and other federal agencies.

The show will also have a selection of odd devices that are trying to capture the public's imagination. These include a satellite locator system for children, a portable speech-recognition translation device and a wind-up charger for mobile phones.

At the same time that CES is taking place in Las Vegas, Apple computer enthusiasts will gather in San Francisco for the Macworld Expo.

There, Apple boss Steve Jobs is also expected to focus on the convergence of electronic devices around the computer.

See also:

12 Nov 01 | Business
Gates talks up the tech sector
11 Nov 01 | Business
Tech industry tries for a comeback
21 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Tackling terror with technology
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