While tablets, Internet connectivity and 3-D TV were all the rage at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, there also were some truly strange and amazing inventions on the margins. For example, how many times have you been wearing your sunglasses and thought to yourself, “I really wish these things worked as a camcorder”? Never? Well, somebody asked the question, hence the Active-I Sunglasses. For only $219, you can block out those harmful rays, record a point-of-view walk down your street and then watch it back on the sunglasses’ monitor. It seems like a good way to get hit by a car.
The award for most gaudy gizmo goes to Sony, whose display cost millions of dollars and featured a 260-inch television. It’s not for sale and nobody at Sony knew if it ever would be. What we’d like to know is where it’s going after the show and can we watch the Super Bowl on it?
The strangest product synergy at the show comes courtesy of Panasonic, Google and NordicTrack (bet you didn’t see that one coming). Connect your NordicTrack to your flat-screen Panasonic television. Both are already hooked up to the Internet. Type in any street, mountain, beach or other place you can walk in the world. Google Maps instantly brings up a live stream of the location and your NordicTrack mimics the incline and difficulty of the terrain while you watch a live picture of your chosen destination on your television as you work out. That’s as close to virtual reality as you’ll get this year. It also seems like it would make exercising a lot more fun.
I also got a glimpse of the future of transportation in crowded cities. General Motors Corp. has a program to imagine Shanghai circa 2030 and built an electric networked vehicle (ENV) as the people-mover to suit this urban environment. The ENV is like a two-person, upright Smart car/bumper car hybrid that travels up to 25 mph and goes 25 miles before needing a charge. It’s environmentally friendly and produces zero emissions. Being that there are only 10 in existence, it was a blast to ride in one, whether it becomes a widespread reality or not.
Maybe next year instead of a giant television that no one can use, Sony can create a Jetsons-style flying machine to play with. You have one year Sony … make it happen!