Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Future technology unveiled at CES

Maggie Shiels visited the CES show's Digital Experience, billed as the biggest media event of the week.


Rory Cellan-Jones takes a peek at TVs

In the past the world's largest electronics show has given us everything from the VCR to the DVD and from high def TV to digital radio.

So what can we expect the gadget makers to offer us in the future?


Samsung vice-president Kevin Lee on LED televisions

Last year CES focused on TV screens that were bigger and thinner than ever before. This year the theme continues but with a few more bells and whistles along with efforts to bring the web and TV together like never before.

The internet portal Yahoo unveiled a list of partners which will make high definition TV's to support its new online service.

These widgets, or small internet applications, will run alongside normal broadcast TV content but not over it. The TV remotes will have a one touch button that will call up the widget dock to give users access to snippets that can be used for keeping track of news, finance, sports, buying and selling on eBay, sharing photos and keeping up with friends via

Rich Ezekial of Yahoo's Connected Life team said it is all about making the world of TV more personal, tailored and social.

"The TV is still the most used media device in the world, and what we thought was how do we combine the two, TV and the web, in a really relevant way.

"The other key thing is using the best on the web that also allows widget developers across the world to create compelling content."

The new sets from Sony, Samsung, LG and Vizio will be on sale as early as the spring.

The technology could open up an important revenue stream for Yahoo which is likely to use it as a new way to sell advertising.

LaserVue TV screen
Mitsubishi claim their LaserVue TV is the first to use a laser display

Mitsubishi flexed its muscles with what it said is the world's first laser TV called LaserVue.

The company demonstrated its product alongside that of a high end plasma screen.

Nick Norton from Mitsibushi Digital said "With the precision of the laser beams and the laser light we can produce twice the colour of any other technology.

"We are also showing with our power meters how green this product is. The energy efficiency in terms of operating power is about a quarter of the power used by LCD and plasma screens."

Mr Norton said that equates to about 400 to 500 watts compared to under 100 watts for LaserVue.

He said the TV has "no lamp, no colour wheel, three lasers -red, green and blue- that drive the picture."

But alongside the monster size comes a monster price. The $6,900 (4,582.50) tag has not been a problem for the company's customers explained Mr Norton.

"We are a niche company and a premium brand and fortunately our consumers are less impacted by the economic downturn and they have more discretionary income. So yes they are well to do."

Vizux specs
Organic light emitting diodes provide the light and images

From the extreme of the 65 inch TV display, CES also exhibited a screen that is no bigger than a half an inch wide but which promises to pack a cinematic punch.

The technology is embedded in a pair of glasses that plugs into a smartphone or laptop.

The UK's Cambridge Display Technology is behind the Vuzix specs. It said they are "energy miserly" which means they are not a drain on devices and can last for hours.

Chairman and chief executive David Fyfe said Vuzix signals a new way of watching video content.

"These glasses will plug into a cellphone that's playing streaming video and it will be like watching a 32 inch TV in front of your eyes.

"And all of that is from a screen that is less than a half an inch wide and less than a quarter of an inch deep."

The technology behind the glasses is called organic light emitting diode or OLED, a cutting edge technology that does not need a blacklight to work and can therefore be made much thinner than an LCD panel.

Mr Fyfe said the Vuzix experience is much more immersive than old fashioned TV and reckons they will be a boon to travellers and the so called "road warrior" who works on the road.

"This is a fantastic way of carrying a very small piece of equipment with you and getting an almost cinema like experience."

Wifi radio
A wireless in more ways than one

The promise of thousands of radio stations at the flick of a dial is being brought by Sanyo over the next couple of weeks.

Their R227 digital radio connects via WiFi or wired internet and said Chris Palmer and "delivers the world" by allowing you to access thousands of stations around the globe.

The radio lets users search by either location or genre depending on whether or not they want to find different types of music, sports, talks shows and so on.

"There is all kinds of content out there," said Mr Palmer.

"It ranges from terrestrial broadcasters to small community stations and guys in their garages who have created specialised content.

"One of the great things about this device is that you also have the ability if you find that there are certain free stations available, you can get them added to the data base. So it's a product that can grow with you and you can customise more and more content."

Where this wins over the computer is from a format point of view said Mr Palmer.

"The computer is just not the most convenient way because of a lot of different interfaces, a lot of different formats between MP3 and AAC and real audio and Windows media."

And he says once you pay $169.99 (113) for the radio, there is no other fee which means "out of the box you have access to thousands of stations the world over."

Social mobile phone at CES 09
Social networking sites and voice communications all in one phone

Australian company INQ has come up with what it calls a social mobile, a simplified way of getting mobile internet.

INQ aims to shake up the cellular phone market with a device it says will give you the best of the internet at the press of a button.

"At the top of the market there are lots of great devices, but for regular people, mobile internet has never really caught on and we think a lot of that has to do with simplicity," said the company's Jeff Taylor.

Hence the reason it came up with the INQ 1 phone which has Facebook, Skype and Windows live messenger permanently switched on.

No need to find where it is hidden on the phone or trawl for them on the internet. "It's just there," said Mr Taylor .

"We tried to design this not for gadget lovers but for our brothers, our girlfriends, our mums - people who should be using internet on the go but haven't in the past."

The phone is only available in Australia and the UK for the moment and will be heading to the States in the later half of this year.

"We call this a social mobile. All your social life is there. We think there is no barrier in communication between voice and social networking and all we are doing is just trying to make it as simple to use as possible."

Pulse Smartpen
LiveScribe's new pen can capture handwriting and audio simultaneously

Computer technology is everywhere and now it is inside a pen.

LiveScribe demonstrated their Pulse Smartpen which is able to capture handwriting and all the audio going on around it and synch the two together.

To make it work you have to use special paper which is made up of millions of dots that can be read by a camera in the tip of the pen taking 75 pictures a second.

"I simply tap on this little 'record' sign at the bottom of the page and I can just start writing," explained Jody Farrar of LiveScribe.

She said users can then dock the pen to the computer using a USB connection, allowing all the notes and audio be uploaded.

"I think the ability to capture audio amazes people," said Ms Farrar.

"It's great that it captures your handwriting and that's all made digital, but the ability to synch that to what is being said really changes the way you take notes.

"Suddenly you can focus on key words and really listen to the lecture or what is being said because you are not so concerned in capturing every word in ink, because you know the pen is capturing the audio."

The pen come in two sizes with the 1 gigabyte being able to record 100 hours of audio and the 2 gigabyte recording twice that.

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