Electronic Design

See CES From Another Point Of View

I definitely should have started at the Sands when I was at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last month. It would have given me a chance to have taken Anybot’s QA telepresence robot for a spin and save some shoe leather, since it could have roamed the aisles for me while I took in everything it encountered from the comfort of my own computer desk (Fig. 1).

The Anybot QA is a shipping product, not a prototype or development tool. It’s available for a premium price, but it still may be a bargain given the cost of plane fare these days. Standing 5 ft tall and weighing 30 lb, the robot balances on a pair of 12-in. wheels and can run up to 6 mph. Its onboard LIDAR has a 5-m range.

The bot runs about four to six hours using rechargeable lithium ion batteries. A pair of 5-Mpixel cameras (front and rear) and hi-fi audio support provide remote input. Its 20-fps VGA resolution is limited more by the network but fine for interacting remotely. A 7-in. color LCD provides visual feedback in the other direction.

The Anybot team wasn’t the only crew letting its robot hog the limelight. Right across the way, Ologic displayed one of its two-wheeled creations (Fig. 2). Ologic is a small robotics development house that has created a range of products from a brainwave controller to hordes of two-wheeled robots.

There was plenty to see at CES, including handheld 3D display technology from Toshiba Matsushita Display and 3M (see “3M Film For Viewing 3D Films"). This auto stereoscopic display is constructed just like a normal, side-lit LCD except for a special film between the LCD panel and the lightpipe panel. Some of the other prototype 3D displays were auto stereoscopic, while some required LCD shutter or polarized glasses. Nvidia showed a new driver that runs any 3D game in true 3D on a 3D display.

Of course, 3D pointers will come in handy with 3D display interfaces. A couple employed technology from Analog Devices. For example, Sixense Entertainment’s system uses a modulated magnetic field (see “Sensor Provides Real 3D Positioning” at www.electronicdesign.com, ED Online 20504). Also, Hillcrest showed off a slick device that uses accelerometers to control a menu system for a TV interface during its demonstration (Fig. 3).

Around the corner from CES was the AVN Adult Expo, where Glacier Media Systems demonstrated software that converts 2D content to 3D. It works with 3D-ready TVs like Samsung’s DLP (see “LEDs Hold The Key To DLP Advantages,” ED Online 19606). It also handles 3D content with even better effects.

Adult content and 3D games are two markets that will drive 3D, but I was also talking with some video camera experts about 3D cameras. It turns out that HD cameras that can handle 3D are already in place. Football in 3D on large-screen HDTVs will likely be a driving factor as well. The Super Bowl may be in 3D sooner than you might think.

There was quite a bit more at CES, from HDMI fiber to DLNA set-top boxes. Unless the economy turns around dramatically, CES will be smaller next year. Still, there will just as many interesting new items, even if there are fewer people at the show.

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