The giant Cebit technology fair is getting under way in Hanover.
The finishing touches are being put to Cebit
The trade fair is a key event for the world's technology and telecommunications firms and the mood at the show is always a good guide to how hi-tech firms feel about the future.
This year some of the bullishness of previous years has returned thanks to the growing success of wifi, renewed interest in mobile phones and the growing role of the PC as the heart of the digital, hi-tech home.
Also on show will be the usual slew of nifty gadgets including a paper computer, a camera lens that works like the human eye and a Swiss army knife that doubles as a portable memory card.
Cebit will also see Sony show off the PSX that combines a gaming console, personal video recorder and DVD player/ writer in one package.
The PSX should be on sale in Europe by the end of 2004.
The big themes for Cebit are wireless access, forthcoming third-generation phones and the digital home.
On show will be a range of high-speed services that will send music, movies and TV programmes to future 3G phones.
Disposable computers are on the way
Many PC makers will be demonstrating technologies that let people use their home PC as a hub to control other household gadgets.
Many believe the PC will become a media repository that holds all the movies, music and images a family collects.
Tools to make more of this media and share it around will be a feature of many stands at Cebit.
The usual range of more quirky exhibits are on show too.
Swedish company Cypak is unveiling a disposable computer made of paperboard.
Cypak has crammed a small chip, 32kilobytes of memory and a speaker onto the paper processors that it says could find a first use as an interactive drugs dispenser.
The lens that works like the human eye has been developed by electronics giant Philips.
The lens has no moving parts, instead it encloses two non-mixing fluids in a short transparent tube.
USB knife will be coveted by many
By changing the current applied to the lens it is possible to alter the curve of the meniscus between the two fluids.
The Swiss army knife is a joint venture between Victorinox and digital memory firm Swissbit.
The top of the line version of the famous Swiss army knife combines a 128MB USB memory key with an LED light, scissors, nail file, screwdriver and ballpoint pen.
Cebit is the biggest technology trade show in the world.
This year a total of 6,411 exhibitors will be taking part across more than 334,000 square meters of exhibition space.
More than 500,000 visitors are expected over the seven days of the fair. The peak of visitors was in 2001 when about 850,000 trooped through the many halls at the Hanover trade fair ground.
Although the show officially opens on 18 March, the public will not be let into see at the gadgets and other goodies on show until Saturday.
A spokesman for the show said security had been stepped up in the wake of the attacks on Spain.
No specific threats have been made against the show but more police officers, in uniform and in plain clothes, will be patrolling the exhibition halls.