2014 International CES in Las Vegas January 7th-10th

January 2014 brings the Consumer Electronics Show “CES” to Las Vegas in one of the world’s top technology showcases.   From Ford to IBM to small startups, companies come to the Internationl CES event to show off their latest and best consumer technology products.

Unfortunately we won’t be reporting live from CES as we have for many years here at Technology Report, but we’ll bring you interesting items as they pop up at the show. 

Check out some of the latest press for what many consider the world’s top technology event:

2014 International CES

Social Media has become a big part of the CES Experience as bloggers and podcasters work alongside major media outlets to cover the Technology action from thousands of exhibitors throughout the huge Las Vegas Convention Center.
 

CES 2012 Preview: Leaving CES Las Vegas with money in your pocket

CES 2012 is the world’s top technology conference, and it brings over 100,000 industry insiders and about 2500 technology exhibitors from all over the world to a city that is already one of the world’s top tourism destinations, Las Vegas.     The CES conference is usually the biggest of the year in Las Vegas, and it tends to fill all of the strip hotels.   However, if you need a nice room at the last minute OR you are traveling on your own dime, OR you want to do your company a favor and stay inexpensively, consider the many excellent downtown hotels in the area known as “Fremont Street”.      Ironically, the look and feel of Freemont Street is a lot more like the Las Vegas many know from movies, even recent ones.   Unlike the strip where the hotels – several of the world’s largest – have thousands of rooms in sprawling resorts that can be as long as a city block, in downtown Las Vegas you’ll find much smaller venues.    Recent renovations of several of the properties in the Fremont Street Area as well as the addition years ago of a massive overhead canopy with a spectacular hourly light show have made the downtown area a lot more appealing.    On top of that, the wildly successful Zappos shoe empire will soon move its offices to this area in the hopes of helping to rennovate and stabilize the economy of downtown Las Vegas.

Here are some nice travel tips from the CES Official Website, CESweb.org :  CES Travel Tips

Although CES conference buses do NOT serve the downtown hotels (at least I’ve never seen that in my several years at the conference), you can catch “the deuce” bus pretty much any time which will take you down the strip to the Venetian where CES has a very regular shuttle back and forth to the Convention Center.   Taxis are more expensive but also a quick way to get to the Convention Center. I’d recommend you avoid trying to take the city bus from downtown to the Convention Center or to the Monorail station at the Sahara because the transfers can be tricky and they don’t run nearly as often as “the deuce”.

The Deuce costs $3 per ride (a bit ironic, since I believe the name originally referred to the $2 fare), or you can purchase a daily pass for $7 or a 3 day for $15.      There’s also an express strip bus that runs a similar route to the deuce.     Information about that is here and you should print out this route map to orient yourself between the strip and downtown, a distance of a few miles:  http://www.rtcsouthernnevada.com/transit/route/stripdowntown/stripdowntown(09-18-11).pdf

 

Technology of Cirque du Soleil KA at MGM Grand Las Vegas: Part 2 of 2

KA by Cirque du Soleil is Las Vegas’ most technically advanced stage production. No small order in a city known for many of the world’s most innovative and technically sophisticated shows.

Although there are about 80 performers in the show, there are even more people behind the scenes at KA in roles that vary from computer “dead switch” operators who will stop the show in the event of danger or malfunction (both very rare) to the “cork ranglers” who manage the tons of chopped natural cork that form the “sand” on the huge rotating stage.

As with all the Cirque shows, KA is remarkable in creating the appearance of death defying leaps, dives, and spectacular aerial performances. KA adds to this fireballs, archery battles, hand combat on a stage rotating in the air, and more. All this happens while an army of invisible support staff maintain an extremely high standard of safety for both performers and the audience.

Note: Aria Resort, Vdara Hotel, and Crystals are sponsors of Technology Report’s 2010 CES Coverage.  We appreciated that these remarkable properties – which rank among the world’s most technically advanced hotels and retail center – helped us bring you our live CES 2010 coverage.

HOLGER FÖRTERER is KA’s Interactive projections designer.    Unlike usual light work,  KÀ dancers and acrobats do not control what happens to the projection through their own movements.  KA’s scenery can actually react to the performers.

This creates very realistic illusions – such as falling underwater with a trail of bubbles – that play out in real time as the performers interact with the computerized part of KA’s world.

This innovation happens using infrared cameras which help track the performers and feed that data to computers in the control room pictured above.   This integrates with a remarkable system that maps the massive rotating stage, effectively turning the KA stage into an massive touch-screen that knows the precise position of each actor, dancer and acrobat.

“In essence, what we have is an intelligent set,” said Förterer in an earlier interview. “And everything the audience sees is created by the computer.”

Stay tuned for Technology Report’s live  CES 2011 coverage, starting with our “Pre-CES” specials in November.

Cirque du Soleil’s KA Theater at MGM Las Vegas: Part I

During CES Las Vegas  Technology Report joined a small group of fellow CES bloggers for a backstage tour of Cirque du Soleil’s KA theater at the MGM Grand.

Cirque’s media and technical staff are as extraordinary as their performers and we were joined by KA’s Technical Director Erik Walstad, Cirque’s  Social Media Manager Jessica Berlin, and Cirque Publicist Jeff Lovari.

This remarkable show – one of seven permanent Cirque productions in Las Vegas – is the most technically advanced production in the Western Hemisphere and perhaps the world (I could find no other shows that compare).

KA has several extraordinary and unique technologies, but the most imposing and amazing were the massive moving stages that lift, move, tilt, and spin during the performance, providing everything from an empty abyss when the stages are lowered to a sandy beach (using thousands of pounds of tiny pieces of cork as the sand!) to a massive sheer cliff when one is rotated 90 degrees and flipped into a vertical position, with several performers perched precariously on the edge of the deck.

As we toured the massive “basement” of the KA theater, many stories below the seating area, Walstad explained that the production required a massive retrofit of the existing building, with special support structures required to anchor the gigantic gantry crane that moves the huge deck with extraordinary precision and agility using hydraulics that use vegetable oil as an environmentally friendly alternative to more toxic oils.

Two decks appear and disappear during the performance:

The Sand Cliff Deck weighs in at about *40 tons* and measures 25×50 feet with a six-foot depth.   It is supported and controlled by an inverted gantry crane attached to four 75-foot long hydraulic cylinders running along massive support columns.   Together the crane and deck weigh in at about *175 tons*!    The crane is powered using five pumps and about 3500 gallons of vegetable oil.

The Tatami Deck  measures 30×30 feet and weighs over 37 tons, and can  slide forward almost 50 feet at full travel, like a giant drawer.    Five stage lifts move props and artists during the show, each raised or lowered by four to seven spiral lifts.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to watch any of the Cirque performances you know how *dangerous* many of the acts appear, and I was particularly interested in how Erik and his huge crew of technicians kept the Cirque folks safe during the amazing death defying acts they perform at hundreds of shows each year.      More about that in the next installment.
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Note: Aria Resort, Vdara Hotel, and Crystals are sponsors of Technology Report’s 2010 CES Coverage.

ZigBee Energy Control


ZigBee Energy Control

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Monitoring and controlling energy use has become a major theme in technology and several CES vendors had devices, chips, and standards that worked to monitor and control energy use for appliances.

A question I’m working to answer with more research is whether the best approach for this type of home energy control are the solutions proposed by some of the high end exhibitors at CES – Control4 and Zigbee , or the very simple yet elegant “smart socket” approach taken by USA / Beijing’s “i-Sockets.com” where very inexpensive sockets communicate with the home PC and allow control of things plugged into these sockets via the PC and even remotely over the internet.

Another inexpensive “smart socket” approach is from Picowatt, featured as a CNET CES top pick

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Aria Resort and Casino. Crystals Shopping Center

Aria Resort and Casino and Crystals Shopping Center

The Aria Resort and Vdara Hotel are sponsors of Technology Report’s CES Coverage for the 2010 Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and this post is to thank them for that support.   Disclosure Statement

CityCenterCrystals

If you’re in Las Vegas for CES and not already staying at a CityCenter Hotel (Aria Las Vegas, Vdara, or Mandarin Oriental), you’ll want to visit CityCenter.  You can take a free tram from the Bellagio or the Monte Carlo to get both a view and be dropped off in the middle of CityCenter.   Be sure to check out the wooden sculpture and staircases with agates embedded in them – some of the most beautiful woodwork in the city.

Drew Carey at CES 2010

Drew Carey at CES 2010

CES 014Drew Carey hosted a short tech trivia contest for CNET this afternoon here at CES.   Carey’s joke during the contest summed up one of the major stories here here at the conference.  Carey joked that the $50 gift certificates from CNET were going to be $100, but CNET  “had  tough year”.       I spoke with CEA briefly and they said the preliminary counts indicate about the same attendance as last year’s which I think they said was 107,000 after the auditing that is mandatory for major shows.    Of course I think that many attendees are from exhibitor groups so it’s not a simple task to determine the year to year trends in terms of the industry at large.    I think the Drew Carey analysis probably sums it up – 2009 was  tough year in tech.      However overall the feel here seems to be optimistic, and I think we’re seeing more from China as “good quality, lower price” may start to define the industry more than it has in the past.

DrewJoeDuck

CES Venues: Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall

The two  “huge” CES Venues are the Venetian / Sands Complex and the Las Vegas Convention Center.    The Las Vegas Hilton is also a major venue and is located “adjacent” to the Convention Center’s North Hall, though as with everything in Vegas you are in for some long walks.

Unlike the Venetian Sands complex, the Las Vegas Convention Center is *not* located on the Las Vegas Strip, so be sure to plan some extra time to get there if you are staying in  a strip hotel.   If you are staying in downtown Las Vegas you’ll want to consider a cab directly over or allow about a half hour to take the “Deuce” bus to the Venetian Sands and then another ten minutes to catch a CES Shuttle from there to the Convention Center Venue.

The Las Vegas Convention Center has three *enormous* halls, North (near the Hilton), Central, and South.   Although you could spend all day in any of these you’ll probably enjoy yourself most by walking a bit faster, stumbling into interesting exhibits and spending time where you see fit.    For first timers I’d recommend you avoid planning many appointments or mapping out your day – rather  simply try to get a good feel for the exhibit halls,  stop in at the interesting venues, and try to find a few CES parties to attend.  If you are a blogger or press this will be easier because the parties are often geared to those who will create some “business buzz” for the sponsors.

Aria Resort and Casino Now Open at CITYCENTER Las Vegas

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Please note:   The Aria Resort and Vdara Hotel are sponsors of Technology Report’s CES Coverage for the 2010 Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and this post is to thank them for that support.   Disclosure Statement

The ARIA Resort & Casino and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the new Las Vegas CityCenter Project are the first in the USA to debut a spectacular level of technological innovation for their guests.

A WiFi City opens at CITYCENTER Las Vegas:

CityCenter now offers the world’s largest distributed antenna system.   Over 6,500 antennas and over 2,900 wireless access points cover the Las Vegas CITYCENTER complex which is located directly south of the Bellagio on Las Vegas Boulevard, also called “The Las Vegas Strip”.

Aria’s Amazing Guestroom Technologies:

At the Aria Resort and Mandarin Hotels you’ll find  “smart” automation for every guestroom.   Every device is networked via one gigabit of bandwidth.

The room will recognize a first visit and “greet” guests as they enter with lighting and parting of curtains to showcase the  hotel’s spectacular city or mountain views. The TV will turn on to display a list of automated controls for guests to personalize.

The system also provides  one-touch remote control of lighting, room temperature, television/video systems, music, wake-up calls, draperies and requests for services.  A remote control directs devices in the room or the guest can use the nightstand’s  a seven-inch touch panel.

RFID unlocks the door via key card and sensor.

Aria rooms all feature a 42-inch LCD HDTV with laptop and other device connectivity as well as access to room controls.   The TV also acts as a communications center for the room.

The ARIA Resort & Casino opened December 17 and is located in the Las Vegas CityCenter project.


CES Venues: The Las Vegas Hilton

The Las Vegas Hilton Venue for CES is located adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center – which still means a walk of about 5-10 minutes but does not require you to take the free and frequent shuttle bus as you must to go from the Convention Center or the Hilton to the Venetian / Sands complex which is a few miles away.

The Hilton is the smallest and most easily manageable of the three major CES Venues which also include the Venetian / Sands and the Las Vegas Convention Center.

In Las Vegas you’ll want to preserve your strength and take shuttles whenever possible because simply walking from one hotel to another along the strip can take some time in this city of mega-buildings.   Also note that with buildings of this size your mind (and even maps) may tend to fool you into thinking things are closer than they actually are.