I recently returned from the 2011 CES convention in Las Vegas, and I must say, it was quite a week! Although I am not a fan of Vegas (quite hate it really), I was nevertheless overwhelmed by the overall CES experience. I witnessed legions of innovative new technologies, the culmination of which really caused me to ponder just what we as end users seem to be trending towards in regards to the technology world. Here are a few of my observations, motivated by displays I encountered at CES or technologies that I am otherwise aware of.
(Image Credit: Tokuriki on Flickr)
My first observation (and Zen-like though it may be) is simply that we are ever more a connected people. Linked together by a massive web of cables, wires, and even radio waves, we are never immune to the deep interconnectedness of all of our digital counterparts. In a world where we can pull out our iDevice from almost anywhere in the world and access internet, email, stock portfolio, personal notes written from any device, contacts, and so forth, this interconnectedness is not merely an idea or a trivial matter-of-fact, it is the bread that sustains our digital lifestyles.
Even granting the present level of digital interconnectedness, it seems to me that January 2011 is only the very beginning of a level of technological utility that will soon become the hallmark of the civilized world.
With several unique offerings from Withings, Sony, Control4 and other companies being present at CES, the following is only a partial list of fantastic iPhone or iPad-driven ideas represented by the many companies at CES: medical monitoring devices, wireless audio technology, video docking from an iPad to a television, a cash register and credit card machine, a universal remote accessory, a remote starter for your car, a wireless car diagnostics device, home automation control, remote control toys and vehicles. The list could go on forever.
This year CES really inspired me by reinforcing a point that I often think of: That our smartphones are not just phones any longer – they are digital devices, internet consoles, handheld computers, powerful controlling and data processing machines… In short, they are super-functional handheld microcomputers capable of a massive array of tasks, with telephony just happening to be one of them.
I foresee a near future in which we use our smartphones for everything, allowing them to become an extension of ourselves. Embedded identification and credit cards, the ability to plug your device into one of a thousand machines and have it personalize the ensuing experience for you, using an iPhone to operate your car, unlock your house, tell your friends when you’ve arrived at their doorstep… What a powerful future we may have ahead of us. And it’s only the beginning. With the enhancement of the wireless age, and talk of even wireless power standards, we may well be taking on the digital age with a force and gusto quite unparalleled to even the most creative science fiction writers of decades past.
As I headed home from CES, aboard the plane as it was ready to touch down at last in Salt Lake City, UT, I thought for a moment that the landscape beneath me, with it’s orange glow and it’s patterns of light, looked something like one large, interconnected circuit board. The motherboard of innovation…The conjoining circuit of humanity. The truth is, we’ve never been more connected than we are in the present day.
What a wonderful, wireless world this will be.