My Highlights from CES 2012

Day one (for me) at CES – wow – what can I say, CES is like falling down the (tech) Rabbit Hole in Alice & Wonderland except on steroids – and then squared. Yes, I know, guilty, I’m an Intel fanboi – so sue me – but to be honest, I’ve always been a fan boy, long before I joined the company. And, at this CES, I really think folks would be hard pressed NOT to be impressed by what we are showing here. Let me step you through some of the high points…I wouldn’t be a good member of the Intelligent Systems Group if I didn’t start off with what we are showing. As I mentioned in my blog earlier this week, IVI (In-Vehicle Infotainment) is a big, wide-open topic. I think, from what I’ve seen, folks are genuinely impressed with what they are seeing from out big “Automotive Intelligence” demo.

There are some really cool scenarios that we highlight that I think at least some folks haven’t thought of before. The demo runs through some typical usage models, such as “Commuting” (which most of us do & almost all of us hate), the “fun road trip” and the “running errands” mode – which, between the 3 of them, probably cover most of the time you spend in your car. On the commuting front, the big emphasis is on increasing your effectiveness – whether that means changing your route from your “normal commute” to an alternate path to avoid construction or a big accident, or letting you dictate an email while you are driving (like having your own personal secretary in your dashboard: “Moneypenny, take a memo”). It even shows a scenario where, as you talk to your boss (hands free, of course) & tell her you’re stuck in traffic so you need to move your 11AM meeting to noon, your car will listen in actually move your meeting back an hour in your calendar. Now THAT’S efficiency!

On the Road Trip motif, wouldn’t you like it if your car tracked a) your fuel gage (as well as you average mileage), b) your position & route (where you are & where you are going) and c) connected into a gas station database, like Gas Buddy (which I’ve used & can personally recommend). Don’t get me wrong, the Gas Buddy app is great, but there’s very little value of finding a gas station that is 50 cents cheaper then ever other place for 100 miles around if you run out of gas 5 miles before you get there. Then there are maybe more obvious things like finding all your favorite fast food joints (mine is probably Carl’s Jr) along the route you are going, or leveraging an app like Glympse so that all the cars in your virtual Caravan (say 3 car loads of folks are going skiing), you can easily keep track of where everyone without using those some old-school tricks like putting you headlights on, or things like that. Plus, with technologies like Wi-Fi – if your caravan was close enough, you might even be able to stream a movie from one car to another so everyone can enjoy the classics like The Matrix (one of my all-time favorite movies). And, of course, some of the same things that were helping in commuting, like re-routing around problems, would also apply here!

Lastly, if you think about when you’re in “errands” mode, everything that you can do to make your life easier can be appreciated. Like, if you’re dropping Junior off at soccer practice, but don’t have your Pilate class for an hour, wouldn’t it be great if your car reminded you that the shirt you wanted to get, from your “wishlist” (Amazon or wherever), is on sale, in a store, that is half way between your destinations. What about connecting to the weather to warn you that, where junior is practicing soccer is experiencing rain, or even worse, lightning? Or, do you consider yourself a big gear head? No? So, what do you do when that darn “check engine” light comes on? Check it for what? For overheating? For termites? For emotional distress? By now, if your car is smart enough to identify a problem, should it be smart enough to actually tell you what the problem? And, wouldn’t it be great if it figures out your oil is low that it lets you know that there is a great place to get oil changes, based on Yelp reviews, and maybe even connect into their systems to see if they have any openings in their schedule? It is so frustrating to keep going to place, parking your car, getting out, going to the front desk, just to find out they don’t have any openings for the rest of the day? And, like so many other developer-friendly platforms (like PCs and smart phones), who knows what other, car-helpful apps & usage models will be developed over the next several years.

Besides the big IVI demo, we should our Lego’s Augmented Reality (AR) demo, as well as had a spot-light class that talked about the Tele-Medicine use in Mexico. But, of course, it is still an “Intel” booth, so we also had other really cool things from the rest of corporation. From a personal perspective, the 2 things I thought were “hottest” were the Intel-based Lenovo K800 based on Medfield (Intel Atom Z2460) processors.

I watched the Intel guy do the demo on what the phone could do & it was just stunning. For example, he had this one app running where you felt like you were on a roller coaster, but because of the gyroscopes that were built into the phone, as he moved the phone around (which we could see because he connected a larger monitor to the HDMI output of the phone), the viewpoint on the screen would change. And it was so fast and smooth that he was able to whip us all around the views so fast, I figured someone one have a seizure (fortunately, no one did). I’ll have to look for a video to share, but, believe me, the demo of what this phone could do was amazing. Plus, perhaps equally amazing, they also had several working version of the Lenovo K800 Intel-based phone which should be released to the Chinese market later this year. My one big shock was the weight. All the stereotypical rhetoric aside, everyone seemed to imply, whenever Intel did finally get into a phone, it would be as heavy as a brick. But, in reality, the opposite is true. In fact, to be honest, I compared the weights of my 2-yr old HTC Hero phone with the Lenovo K800 and I can’t honestly which is lighter (I *think* the K800 was lighter), but, keep in mind that my phone only has a 3.2 inch screen (vs 4.5 inch screen for the K800), so that makes it even more impressive on the Intel-based phone side (yeah!). Now the only question is: When do I get MINE?!? (hint, hint ;-))

The second big thing, which is creating quite the buzz are the Ultrabooks. Just for fun this morning, before the show opened, I took my current laptop and held it up against an Ultrabook (specifically, the ASUS Zenbook) and took a picture.

OMG – you know the Ultrabooks are thin, but it isn’t until you compare it to what folks are really using that you really appreciate the difference. Plus, when you take into account that I need an external battery on my rig to get to about 4 hrs, but the Zenbook UX31 gets roughly 7 hrs, as is. The lightness, the thinness, the expensive battery life, all while still having great performance – tie these things all together & I really see Ultrabooks being a big hit this year. In my opinion, I think the undervalued strength of Ultrabooks will actually be in the business space. How much more productive would your employees be if they just carried their laptops with them more – if they had to worry about finding an outlet to plug into less – if just loved their platform so much, they WANTED to use it more. Now, how much would that boost in productivity be worth? Maybe 5%? Maybe 10%? Maybe 20%? If it were only 10% on an employee that cost you just $50,000 per year, that’s $5,000 – or roughly twice (or more) the cost of an Ultrabook. That means that your ROI is effectively 200% or your breakeven point is about 6-months. In other words, after your folks have used their Ultrabooks for half a year, that Ultrabook purchase is now earning you money (based on the above assumptions). So, I’m not sure, once folks realize this, how many companies WON’T want to get in on this Ultrabook goodness. As I see it, not many companies can afford to ignore this!

So that’s it, I’ll wrap this up with the promise to expand on some of the above later on, but I wanted to give you a quick snapshop of some of the hottest things going on. But, I’ve still got a few more hours here – let me know what YOU think I should be looking for at CES. What news do you think is the hottest topics? I’ve taken a bunch of pictures, which I’ll upload later, but let me know what you want to see, either in the comments below or hit me on Twitter: @Geek8ive – THANKS!

11 Responses to My Highlights from CES 2012

  1. rose says:

    Wow, this IVI looks awesome. I would so love this in my car. When I was reading about the CES, the thing I thought was really cool that they showed was the Hopper from DISH Network. With the Hopper, it has three tuners so you can be recording three shows at the same time. Not to cool since all companies can do that, but what makes this receiver different is that they have the PrimeTime Anytime. With the PrimeTime Anytime, you can have all the primetime shows on the four major networks saved to one tuner every night and also record two other shows from the other two tuners. That to me would save me the hassle of all our DVR conflicts. My co-workers at DISH checked it out and said it had so many cool features on it. I know I cannot wait until this receiver is released. Check it out and see what you think of it.

    • Eric Mantion says:

      So, Rose – what are you saying? You think that you & your company needs to work on bringing Hopper to people’s cars? I know RVs have satellite antennas on their roofs under covers, but do you really think this would become common in “normal” cars?

      Does this mean that Dish Network is working on a flat, phased-array antenna that fits on top of normal cars? That would be pretty cool news! I look forward to hearing more about that – thanks!

  2. rose says:

    My apologies, I merely was giving you feedback on your blog and answering your question. “But, I’ve still got a few more hours here – let me know what YOU think I should be looking for at CES. What news do you think is the hottest topics?” For me I thought a lot of things were very interesting and you definitely peaked my interest with this IVI, but another product that I found to be interesting is the Hopper, because I have been a customer with DISH Network for a lot longer then I have worked for them. Again, sorry for the confusion.

    • Joe says:

      Actually DVR / DAR recording is emerging into vehicle head units now, and I think its use will grow. In most Asian urban areas, TV is already inside most cars, albiet carried in

  3. Eric Mantion says:

    Thanks Teressa – I think the one thing I try to keep in mind while I’m writing is to sound like you are speaking, so that people feel that they are in a conversation – hope that helps – thanks!

  4. Denisha Kilogan says:

    This article had been certainly a very fantastic study. We has been amazed from the items of the submit. I cannot hold out to determine what otherwise you’ve got up for grabs for people. I am surely looking towards the next article. Thanks for sharing!