The Future Starts Now | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 09.01.2002
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The Future Starts Now

The world's largest consumer electronics fair is under way in Las Vegas. Some 2000 exhibitors from all over the world are showing the newest communication, entertainment, computer and networking products.


The Grand Lobby at the International Consumer Electronics Show

"Think Jetsons" says one exhibitor at the The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas about his product.

The intelligent oven the company "Tonight's Menu" is selling really does seem like it's straight out of the 1960s US science fiction cartoon series "The Jetsons".

It's a programmable oven that's also a refrigerator. You can place a meal in the refrigerated oven in the morning and set the program for a certain time. Cooking will start automatically.

What's nice about the device is that you can call your oven up if there's been a change of plans. You can "tell" the oven to keep the meal refrigerated, change the start time, or reset the cooking temperature.

Apparently the only thing you can't tell the oven is something like "honey, make some extra, I'm bringing home company."

Home networking

Ovens that you can program over the internet, intelligent kitchen gadgets like pans and toasters and computer-controlled heating and cooling systems are part of what's known as home networking.

Home networking is a primary focus at this year's CES. More than 110,000 industry professionals are expected to attend the consumer electronics fair. Among them will be some 12,000 international visitors from more than 110 countries.

The number of home networking technologies is on the rise, says Karen Chupka of the Consumer Electronics Association CEA, which organizes the Las Vegas fair.

"Consumers are demanding more products interconnecting throughout the home to fit both their workstyle and lifestyle routines," Chupka adds.

According to CEA research, consumer demand for home networking products is exploding. It's driven largely by the large number homes with computers, the growing number of electronic products that can be interconnected and the availability of broadband Internet access.

"Home networking is not only security and automation, but now includes the distribution of content and entertainment throughout the household," says Chupka.

The most popular of the currently available home networking options is a lighting system with a vacation setting that turns lights on and off to give the house a lived-in appearance while the residents are out.

Fancier options for today's tech-savvy homes include anything from front-door cameras to rooftop satellites.


The two thousand exhibitors at CES also showcase a wide array of entertainment electronics, including the latest in DVDs, DTV, 3D gaming and digital surround sound.

It's a never-ending quest for faster gadgets and more storage capacity in this field of the electronics market.

Intel's new Pentium 4 processor, for instance, reaches speeds up to 2.20 GHz. It's supposed to provide better performance for activities where speed is important, including internet audio and streaming video, image processing and speech recognition.

And Japanese computer-maker Toshiba in Las Vegas announced a next-generation DVD. The new 120mm disk can store up to 30GB on a single layered, single side. That's enough to record three hours of high definition moving digital images.

German-American co-production

On Tuesday, the Las Vegas fair witnessed the birth of what could become another main event for the consumer-electronics industry.

The world’s two largest tradeshow organizers announced they will stage a new consumer electronics fair in China later this year.

Deutsche Messe AG, organizer of the world's biggest computer fair CeBIT in Hanover, and CEA, organizer of the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, will launch a Consumer Electronics Show called CeBit CES in Shanghai in May.

According to the partners, CeBIT CES will help consumer electronics companies from all over the world connect with China's market of 1.3 billion citizens.

Ernst Raue of Deutsche Messe AG said, "The World Bank forecasts that by 2020 China will represent the world’s largest economy."

Raue said the Chinese were the biggest users of electronic products - and that credit card, Internet and cell phone usage were growing rapidly."

"We believe that by combining forces with CEA we can provide consumer electronics companies with a strong vehicle for entrée into the enormous Chinese marketplace," Raue added.

CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro called CeBit CES an "exciting venture".

Even in case this "exciting venture" doesn't yield the success it promises, the fact that the world's two largest trade fair organizers are cooperating already makes it an exciting project.

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