Six years ago I busted out my brand new Flip Video Camera (!!!) and brand new Nikon D40 (!!) and spent four days walking around the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) checking out the latest tech and communication innovations of the time.
CES 2008 hit in the midst of the iPod vs. Zune wars, the Blu-ray vs HD DVD wars, Nintendo’s Wii system surpassing Xbox and Playstation in sales, and Apple TV facing skepticism due to light sales, as critics considered that consumers were not really ready to buy and consume video entertainment via the web.
Don’t forget this was two years before the introduction of the iPad, almost two years before Avatar and the 3D TV boom, three years before the Nintendo 3DS, four years before the Nike Fuelband, and five years before Google Glass. In brief, compared to today, it was a simpler time in consumer tech.
I spent some time going through my photo and video archives from CES 2008, and the result is a unique look into what tech trends are still popular (giant TVs, helper robots), what are no longer popular (Zune, Fergie) and a handful of glimpses into the future (touchscreen experiences, mobile apps).
Highlights include: walls of giant TVs, fountains pouring water down TVs, booth babes playing electric cellos, harps and violins, giant car stereos, more walls of giant TVs, displays showing the features of the newest flip phones, a “dance with Fergie” photo booth, a giant Zune booth, Microsoft Surface demos, race car immersion experiences, toothbrush sterilizers, award-winning Guitar Hero controllers, smart toilets, networked computer banks, a touchscreen Yahoo mobile widget display (with links to MySpace, MTV and eBay), a 35 foot tall Bumblebee from the original Transformers movie, robots, Roombas, more robots, and a laser mounted household paper towel dispenser, faucet and garbage can.
In one of the smaller conference spaces (the best parts, if you ask me), I came across these young guys who designed the iShoes — electric snowshoes that go 13 mph. It turned out they were from Eden Prairie, MN.
Later, I came around the corner from a wall of giant TVs and experienced a handful of geeks with their feet in buckets of brown sludge. It was an Alimtox footbath detox station and so out of place I started filming with my Flipcam.
You can hear the guy with his feet in a bucket at the end of the video say, “This will be streaming later today,” and me say, “That’s true, actually.”
Because that was a unique happening six years ago. Today, it’s the norm.
And here’s a full demo of the Microsoft Surface, which is fascinating not because the trend of giant touchscreen tabletops became a reality, but because mini-touchscreen tablets (iPads) are absolutely mainstream six years later.
In another hall, I experienced the joy of Guitar Hero Air Guitar Rocker, of which I wrote this at the time:
As if pretending to play the guitar didn’t already make you a lame-o, check this out.
It’s the Guitar Hero brand Air Guitar Rocker from Jada Toys, with a GH-branded belt, wearable amp programmed with 10 songs and special pick you strum in front of the belt. It also has an output for external speakers. Songs include 5 originals plus Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades,” Van Halen’s “You Really Got Me” and Boston’s “More Than a Feeling.”
It’s actually quite harder to play than it looks. This guy was really horrible. But then again, it’s nothing nearly as hard as actually learning to play an instrument.
One morning Robert Scoble organized a DSLR photo walk at 6 a.m. down the Las Vegas strip. Four of us showed up. Afterward we went out for breakfast and he turned to me holding his giant Nokia phone, said “We’re live. Introduce yourself,” and I found myself talking to a couple hundred folks on Qik. Another “first” and precursor to live- and life-streaming that is so prevalent today.
That week I also toured the How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb exhibit at The Atomic Testing Museum (original post here), which I think about and/or reference at least monthly to this day. All of those guys are dead now.
So that was only 6 years ago…
As we reflect on the tech trends of early 2008 and prepare for CES 2014, we’re entering an era where smartphone and tablet factory revenue are expected to exceed the entire consumer electronics market this year, and for the first time, as mobile demand continues to outpace more traditional technology. And consumer confidence toward technology is rising to some of its highest levels — dating to late 2007.
We live in a special time for technology innovation, and it’s exciting to go into this year’s CES with eyes wide open that