International CES Recap – Still a While To Go To Really Get Connected

The organizers of CES claim to cover what amounts to 37 football fields for the annual conference and my feet are complaining enough that it seems like it was even more.  There were certainly enough eye-popping presentations in the main hall – where all the heavy-hitters were – but a lot of solid elements were found in the secondary halls.  As promised, I did try to get deeper into the steps manufacturers and other players were taking to strengthen interfacing with content and what I found was neither good nor bad – it was just a little ho-hum.  Where I thought many television manufacturers would be advancing their smart or connected screens further than last year – or adding further interactivity options with second-screens, I really didn’t see much.  In the case of Panasonic, they almost acted like an entire kiosk from last year didn’t even exist.  Specific interfaces to control what shows up on the screen have advanced in small ways. But, from what was shown on the floor, the interfacing with and connecting to vast forms and formats of content still have a while before it becomes reality.

Starting with Panasonic, the exciting use of tablets shown last year to select and share content from your tablet on the big screen was greatly minimized.  Their showcase element of this type of connectivity was a limited example of interfacing with MySpace.  With the program in development, the canned presentation did not excite.  Sharp touted some connected screens, but didn’t go into specifics and their biggest interactivity showcase of the event as their Aquos workscreen meant to take the place of conference room white-boards.  Its direct incorporation of video conferencing, touch screen manipulation of images, documents and spreadsheets on a huge scale were nice, but certainly not consumer-facing.  Samsung relied much less this year on showing how Samsung mobile phones can act as controllers for their TVs and focused much more on their new voice and gesture-based controlling of the screens.  Some speculated this feature is an opening salvo to the reported functionality of the yet-to-be-seen Apple TV, but we’ll see how it plays in the long run against the offering of XBox360 and Kinect controls that would do the same on any TV it is attached to – regardless of manufacturer.

There were a couple of social connectability offerings shown by companies other than TV or mobile manufacturers.  The one that looked promising to me – if not completely there yet – was by a company named Copia.  They allow users to share notes in the margins of books as you read them on your tablet.  It seemed that the possibility to expand the mechanic to other forms of entertainment consumption on their platform was promising.  Cisco announced the incorporation of Cloud technology to its floundering Videoscape product that allows all forms of connectivity and interaction via set-top boxes and mobile by way of ActiveVideo. 

In a much less satisfying form of connectivity, but interesting all the same in what it could be with the incorporation of a Cloud is what Intel was showing off for instant sharing.  The problem with the product as it now stands is that it is only within your Wi-Fi network.  Imagine if you were able to take a picture and share it immediately with pre-determined friends and family around the world without having to compress and send through SMS, email or other.  The mechanics they showed within network would be astounding if they could be controlled through the Cloud for instant sharing.  Perhaps that’s something that could be integrated with Google+ and it circles – yet with expanding beyond the internet and onto TVs and mobile phones…

So, in the end, I couldn’t get much more insight into interfaces other than just the idea of tapping into apps as they are and not APIs.  While we will be connected, it will take a while to really get there.

Come back tomorrow to check out some other general observations of CES 2012…

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