Las Vegas, Nevada.
The very name itself conjures up images of colossal casinos, bright lights and delightful decadence of every sort. A veritable Disneyland for adults and a playground for indulging our most irresponsible and impulsive whims. Almost everyone has a Vegas story. And contrary to popular opinion, what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas. And that can be a damn good thing. Especially when Sin City plays host to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next month at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
In a town known as the Mecca of mega business conventions, the CES show is the top dog and Big Kahuna all rolled into one. Every January, 150,000 souls roll into Vegas to check out the latest and greatest in the electronic and digital promised lands. And luckily for me, on January 8th, 2013, that number ticks up to 150,001. Yours truly will be rolling into Vegas for a few days of the requisite over-the-top-excesses with a side detour to check out the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.
Now I'll be the first to admit it, electronic gadgets can give me a headache. Whether it's screwing up a password reset procedure or crawling underneath my office desk to joust with a temperamental cable modem, there are days where I feel like the poster child for technical ineptitude. Sometimes when my laptop fires up, I swear the first sound I hear is the evil digital cackle of the hard drive mocking me derisively as it plots that day's misadventures. Be that as it may, I'm unusually excited for what lies in store for me next month beyond the silicon gates of the Las Vegas Convention Center. I'm told the spectacle that is CES is something that has to be seen to be believed. A technical extravaganza of epic proportions. So what on earth, you may ask, may excite a self-professed techno inept enough to venture forth into the wilds of the world's largest electronic mosh pit? Three words, my friend....
Voice. Touch. Technology.
If history is any guide, CES 2013 will once again be a who's who of corporate powerhouses and captains of industry. What makes this year extra special is two technologies in particular have evolved to the point where they're now beginning to pop up en masse in personal computers and everyday electronic devices. Specifically, touchscreen and voice interactive technologies.
What's truly incredible about voice and touch technology is it allows us the opportunity to communicate and interact with our devices like we would with another human being. Up close and personal. With touch. With sound. In a way that's simplified, streamlined, even intimate. By breaking down a critical barrier between man and machine, we're rewarded with a user-friendly experience that's significantly more gratifying.
Our smartphones and tablets are perfect examples of the power of this technology in action. In less than five years, Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms have revolutionized entire industries by elevating and personalizing the user experience through the intelligent use of voice and touch interfaces. Almost everyone today uses a smartphone or tablet for one thing or another. The software now available for these devices is simply remarkable. You can trade stocks, edit documents on the go, monitor your heart rate, even put a time lock on your phone to prevent you from drunk dialing your friends while out for a night on the town. The applications are endless. Done well, as in the case of the iPhone, it can revolutionize entire industries and be a godsend for the technophobic layperson.
So, in a nutshell, that is what I'm looking forward to seeing at CES 2013. The continued extension of voice and touch technology into other electronic products, done well. I can only begin to imagine what lies in store next month in the hallowed halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Voice-activated televisions? Quite possibly. Voice-driven sports cars? Please say yes. Touchscreen personal computers? You can bet your last casino chip! Undoubtedly, one of the show's biggest draws will be the new Microsoft Windows 8 operating system which sports a user interface created in part to take advantage of touch technology.
I can't wait.
I believe we're on the cusp of yet another revolution that will see voice and touch technology extrapolated across a greater variety of consumer electronic products. And if done well, as in the case of smartphones, it could make a wide range of gadgets and devices much more appealing to the average American since ease of use is a critical component in the widespread adoption of any technology. Just imagine the possibilities.
All in all, whether we grew up with 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Jetsons or Star Wars, CES 2013 is shaping up to be a demonstration of a critical hyperspace leap forward in the realization of our wildest science-fiction fantasies.
HAL 9000 would be so proud.
This blog is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post on the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2013), the behemoth consumer-electronics trade show held annually in Las Vegas. To read other pieces in the series, click here. What are your thoughts on CES? We invite you to submit pieces of 500-850 words -- for possible publication in The Huffington Post -- to firstname.lastname@example.org.