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 Saturday, 18 January, 2003, 14:11 GMT
Dazzling display of digital life
CES in Las Vegas
Tens of thousands ogled the latest gadgets
The BBC's Neil Curry casts his eye over the digital visions presented at the largest consumer electronics technology event in the world.

The Consumer Electronics Show was not the only convention in Las Vegas last week.

It was competing for attention with the annual porn convention or Adult Entertainment Show as it is called.

You may not think the two have much in common. But both were packed with visitors who spent hours ogling at and salivating over the best their respective industries have to offer.

At CES, it was a bewildering array of electronic hardware and software.

One hall being filled with hundreds of absurdly painted cars, packed with outrageous sound systems filling the boot with amplifiers, woofers and tweeters.

Come to think if it, maybe those cars are some kind of pornography after all.

Pneumatic ladies

In the case of the porn show, I am told there were appearances by a goodly number of examples of the real thing.

Robot made out of hi-fi units
Just one of the weird displays at CES
Where the comparisons come to an end, though, is in the dress worn on the stands.

The porn show apparently featured pneumatic ladies with bits of string for clothing.

One of my cab drivers reliably informed me that one of the porn stars checked in to her hotel in the nude, or buck-naked in Vegas speak.

At CES the only vaguely outrageous dress was the skin-tight butterfly costumes worn on the MSN stand, some strange full-length red numbers with packets of food on the head worn by the reps of a TV dinner manufacturer, and some snazzy kimonos worn by prancing dancers on the Casio stand.

Mass of people

CES is undoubtedly an absolute whopper of a show. At times you can hardly move for the shear weight of humanity swirling around a stand.

Spot watch by Fossil
Smart watch promises more than the time
Often you discover that the swirling is being caused by a free ballpoint pen being given away or something equally desirable like a t-shirt.

The queues for cabs or shuttle buses at the end of the day can be frighteningly long. It seems that every second person in town is wearing one of the cherished convention badges.

The show got off to a swashbuckling start with a heavyweight keynote addresses by Microsoft boss Bill Gates.

He unleashed his world vision and a snazzy little gadget known as Spot, which stands for Smart Personal Object Technology.

The first piece of Spot kit that he waved enthusiastically was a snazzy wrist watch that can tell the latest news and weather, as well as the time. Fridge magnet versions will follow.

Comfy chairs

CES is an amazing event. The sheer amount of stuff on display is mind-blowing, everything from the most amazing array of USB ports to a Sport Utility Vehicle the size of a small building, with enough technology in it to launch a space shuttle.

Toshiba Cinema Series 57-inch Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) TV
Admire the quality of your high-definition TV
One of the most popular exhibits seemed to be some upscale reclining home cinema chairs.

There were several stands displaying them and the seats were almost always full.

In some cases the occupants seemed to be actually asleep, either overcome by the comfort of the product or by the exhausting business of walking around 1.2 million square feet of floor space.

The thing that struck me was that despite the bewildering array of objects and services on display, I have never been anywhere that gave such a vivid vision of the future media landscape.

You come away with the notion of a smart wireless home, where vast screens link you to a remote storage site, addressing your every visual and aural need, moulding all these 1various media according to your own needs.

And in front of it all, there you are lounging in your home cinema seat.

Consumer Electronics Show 2003, Las Vegas

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