8:17 am, Dulles Airport, Tuesday January 4th. The early United Airlines non-stop to Las Vegas is typically filled with partiers, vacationers and incorrigible gamblers. But not today. Instead, the flight is mostly filled with US military personnel, some in uniform, some incognito -- along with more than a smattering of geeks.
No, this isn't the beginning of long awaited shore leave -- these soldiers are headed to Vegas to work, and work hard. Square in their sites: New technology at CES 2011 in Las Vegas.
Why so many military at CES this year? Well back in the 80s new technology was developed for the military first, then spread to business, and finally to consumers. But now the funnel has flipped -- and consumer technology now reigns supreme -- and first.
So the armed forces are looking for new technology here, designed for consumers, that it can co-opt for its own purposes. And many parts of the CES industry were ready to welcome them. Here's a short list of just a few new products of interest to the US military, with video so you can decide for yourself if our boys (and girls) in the forces would benefit!
Let's start with some technology borrowed from rock musicians, but designed for fighters. It's a new line of in-ear headphones from industry leader Etymotic, designed for the rigors not of the tourbus, but the Hummvee. It lets soldiers hear soft voices -- and loud ones too -- without being overwhelmed and disoriented by gunshots and explosions!
Watch video of military headphones based on rock and roll technology:
Another product destined for military as well as corporate and home use is the new outdoor screen technology from Samsung. Yes, it's a notebook computer that can actually be seen in bright sunlight, which is a real requirement for field equipment in battle!
Watch video of Samsung's new outdoor notebook:
Another thing soldiers need in the field is an easy to use keyboard that can be gripped and depressed with two hands while standing up. This Grippity Two Sided keyboard has a lot to offer non-traditional computing environments.
Watch video of the Grippity Keyboard:
We'll have much more from CES as the show progresses. For all the updates, bookmark our CES 2011 special report! live from the NBC Universal Booth.