Electronic Design

CES Keynotes Sport A New Look

I’m a big fan of keynote addresses at any tradeshow I go to. But my favorite ones by far are those of the International CES. This show invariably draws the top executives from consumer electronics and other companies around the globe. For example, Bill Gates of Microsoft provided the preshow keynote speech at CES for many years.

The keynotes give engineers the lay of the land for consumer electronics for the rest of the year and then some, which can greatly help in their own strategic planning. For example, in last year’s keynotes, attendees got a vision of what the future might be like with gadgets such as a handheld device that translates your speech into a foreign language in real time or a cell phone with camera recognition that can provide information about whatever you may be pointing at.

All of the keynote speeches will take place in the Palazzo Ballroom of The Venetian. If this will be your first time at CES, I recommend taking the Sands/Venetian Express from the LVCC to the Sands/Venetian and follow the signs.

EXPERTS SPEAK OUT
CES has revamped the list of keynote speakers this year, but has stuck with Microsoft for the preshow keynote at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, January 7. This is usually a big event and the seats are free, but there is a limited amount so get there early. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gets the call this year, and I’m sure he will be joined by quite a number of Microsoft spokespeople plus a few media stars to help him make his points about Microsoft’s vision of the consumer electronics future.

The keynotes continue as the first order of business when the show opens on Thursday, January 8. Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, which produces CES, will kick off the morning keynote at 8:30 a.m. with his state of the industry address. This talk should be especially interesting considering all the turmoil in the financial markets this year. How will the current economic climate affect the consumer electronics industry in 2009? How will the switch to digital television in February 2009 affect the industry? Expect him to have the answers to these questions and more in his speech.

After his talk, Shapiro will introduce Sir Howard Stringer, chairman and CEO of Sony Corp. Sony, of course, is active in all facets of consumer electronics, from its Vaio computers to its Bravia HDTVs to its impressive collection of Handycam video recorders and Walkman video and music players. Stringer is also corporate head of Sony’s Entertainment Business, so don’t be surprised if he brings up to the stage some big names in movies and music to help liven up his keynote. It wasn’t too many years ago that Drew Barrymore made an appearance at a Sony CES keynote.

On tap for Thursday afternoon’s keynote at 4:30 p.m. is Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company. You probably know that Ford has been a leader in automotive infotainment along with its partner, Microsoft, in bringing to market the voice-activated Ford Sync mobile phone and digital music system. I wouldn’t be surprised if New York Yankee superstar shortstop and Ford spokesperson Derek Jeter makes an appearance on stage.

THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
On Friday afternoon, January 9, starting at 1 p.m., Intel chairman Craig Barrett and Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers will speak as part of the second annual Technology and Emerging Countries Program (TEC), which focuses on the role technology plays to further economic growth. Barrett will be the opening TEC keynote speaker. Expect more about Intel Atom-based netbooks at this keynote and how these low-priced computers can be a game changer in emerging countries.

Barrett’s keynote will be followed at 2 p.m. by a TEC panel discussion entitled “Reaching the Promise of Universal Access to Technology: Creating the Global Tech Ecosystem.” The thought here is that universal access to technology is the catalyst to greater knowledge, more vibrant marketplaces, and growing standards of living. When combined with finance, energy, and expertise, technology is the component that can accelerate economic development and create opportunity.

At 3 p.m., Chambers will give the closing TEC keynote. Last year’s CES was the first time I witnessed a demonstration of the Cisco telepresence system. Chambers may show how this kind of technology can assist in communication and education in emerging
countries.

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