WAVE Report

CES 2006
By John Latta, WAVE 0603 1/20/06

Las Vegas, NV
January 5 - 7, 2006

CES has gotten as bad as COMDEX was before its fall.

     130,000 attendees
     1.6m net exhibit space
     2,500 exhibitors

Yet, we wondered while walking the central hall after the first keynote on opening day where the attendees were. In the past, it was difficult to move down the aisles yet today there was a relative calm. Some booths were packed and this included Sony and Microsoft but overall movement around the venues was easy. In spite of its size, there is no event like this which brings the PC industry against the mainstream consumer electronics industry on the stage of competition. In this era of smaller trade shows, one can only wonder is the time of massive events that no one can cover, coming to an end. Certainly CEA believes not.


Keynotes – Night and Day Contrasts

Keynote Commonality

High quality, e.g., HD video, should be anywhere in the home
Content everywhere - mobile

When it comes to creative media content the holy grail is to provide first run movies in the home on any device as soon as possible after release. Given the marketing of movies based on time, geography, medium and venue any significant change in what exists today is seen as disruptive by the studios. Thus, if first run movies are made available in the home at the time of theatrical release this would only subtract from the theatrical revenue. Thus, one calibration point of a CE strategy is the ability to accomplish early release of first run movies with a good consumer experience – anywhere any time in the home. This will be our “hold grail” measure


The theme included the magic of software and decade of digital lifestyles. This is consistent with the business based on software, its high gross margins, leveraging what the PC can do and an OEM model. Much of the presentation centered on the value Vista will give to the user vis-à-vis the experience. With the exception of selling xBox 360 to end users, Microsoft’s approach to the CE market is based on what 3rd parties do with the Microsoft offerings.

Microsoft’s greatest strength is its ownership of the PC desktop. That said, Microsoft lacks content  ownership and access to high quality video content – especially HD streams.

Microsoft needs to develop a unified CE message and to shift focus to include providing content beyond service subscriptions or embedded content in such items as cell phones, PCs and search engines.


The presentation provided an overview for a massive marketing push to make VIIV a credible platform for CE delivery in the home. Using Intel’s spending, they are working elements of the ecosystem to make the VIIV a new player in home media. Of particular note is the emphasis on the availability of content as a part of VIIV – Gametap, DirectTV, AOL Video, NBC and Clickstar.

Intel bases its approach on such items as Moore’s Law, processor technology such as dual core and the use of a Microsoft OS – Media Center.

Obviously, Intel’s greatest strength is their ability to spend money to further their cause, including setting up an ecosystem.

However, from a CE perspective, VIIV is just another piece of silicon which locks the buyer into Intel’s attempt to dominate a market. Intel is only successful if it can sell to 3rd parties – Intel is not a CE company – the consumer buys nothing directly from Intel.

What Intel is missing is a mobility solution and Intel content partners are only at the fringe of the holy grail.


Sony built a theme on: Digital Cinema, Higher Resolution, e-entertainment and Playstation. They  admitted mistakes with BMG and music copy protection and stressed the link with content ownership as a part of the Sony brand. Sony announced a relationship with CBS Sports and Dell. They also made their case for Blu-ray Disk although they had a very weak PS 3 demo – only    clips.

Sony’s greatest strength is brand name recognition, as a supplier of both products and content and depth of product flow.  They are strongly identified with CE and in many respects helped establish the role of CE. As an example, the Blu-ray adopters are the who’s who in first run entertainment content.

Sony’s weakness is the need to solve internal issues on what, when and how content is provided to consumers to use in the way which consumers expect and not to be surprised by it. Sony is not sure when PS 3 will be viable in the market; PS 3 is poorly integrated with the PC. Sony doesn’t know what role the PC will have outside of IT functions.

Missing from Sony’s approach is an overall vision for how they will provide integrated products for the digital home.


Google views each new market is an experiment. Try it and see if it works. Through their 20% time rule (employees spend 20% of their work time brainstorming and experimenting), Google provides a base of experimental market development. Google is not a CE company and made no statement they want to become one. Their focus on Google Video could change the ways in which video is delivered. There are many issues to be worked – geography, payments and DRM.

Google’s strength is its advertiser business model - Google looks like a broadcaster. This provides the means to generate large volumes of income with high gross margins using their infrastructure and that of others. Google has found that building markets based on experiments provides enormous flexibility to seek out new revenue streams. It also forces the company to be very close to the users and what they are doing with the experiments.

The customer buys nothing from Google and this is a weakness, although this will change with Google Video – even though GooglePak was announced as free. It is impossible to predict where the company will go – they do not even know themselves.

What seems to be missing is coherence.  When it is all an experiment it is not clear what the direction is.


Sony – Making a Push into eBooks

Howard Stringer, Chairman & CEO, Sony Corp showed the Reader. This is as close to a book as one can get in electronic form. The monochrome display as high contrast and is very readable. It is based on a display from E-Ink. Pricing is expected between $299 and $399 when introduced in the spring 2006. Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins, will sell books online via the Sony Connect online store. Battery life is quoted in terms of page turns – 7,500.


Where is UWB?

The WAVE could not find any products using UWB. After the great expectations claimed by many, which have yet to be delivered, we went asking.


Part of the MBOA Staccato has a number of products in the form of reference designs which include: External Host Wire Adapter, MiniCard Host Wire Adapter and Internal Device Wire Adapter (RDK – Reference Design Kits). The specification was only complete for the MBOA UWB technology in May 2005. Interoperability was just demonstrated this last month, December 2005. To date products will only be capable of operation in the US due to regulatory constraints in other countries. It is expected that Japan, Europe and Korea will also have regulations supportive of UWB. In these countries it is likely that Detection And Avoidance (DAA) will be required. This is only possible with the MBOA implementation where certain frequency bands are notched out dynamically. It is expected that there will be UWB products on the floor in products at CES next year.

Stoccato claims to have the first single chip CMOS product, a small form factor which allows for $10 nodes and support for products which are certified for USB and also can support IP and Bluetooth.


Pulse-Link is part of the UWB Forum. Presently there are two primary suppliers of pulse based UWB – Freescale and Pulse-Link.

In the booth was HD video from an XBox streaming over a link in the booth to a display. It was claimed that the data rate and latency supported gaming.

When asked where are the products it was stated that only in 2005 has a standard been agreed to. Silicon is available now but it will be 2007 CES before consumer products are seen on the show floor.

Has not the divisive debate between the MBOA and Pulse camp retarded the market development was asked? We could only get a smile in response.


In the main floor booth, under glass, was a demonstration of the wire free environment enabled by UWB. Particular emphasis was placed on the movement of video to and from a notebook.


Finding Technology

The focus of the WAVE is to scout new products and the use of technologies for the home. Here is a highlight of some of the standouts. We have arranged them alphabetically by vendor or topic.

Amedia Networks

After the disaster of trying to make 802.11 networks work for video distribution in the home Amedia Networks is building the WVA5000 chip set at 5Ghz for HDTV distribution based on proprietary technology. This includes the use of MIMO. A demonstration was present in the booth.

Areson Technology – New Mouse Optical Train Design for Longer Battery Life

Areson Technology showed a suite of mouse products including laser mouse. They quoted:

Wireless Laser
2.4GHz RF
2 Days of Use per charge
10,000 Units

Wired - $16

For shipments in the US, Agilent chip, outside the US Pixart.

The MRL mouse is based on an improved optical design, non-laser. They claim increased resolution, longer battery life and high speed tracking. Simplified optical train design shown.

AskMeNow – Making Relevant Information available to any phone

Rather than searching web sites AskMeKnow is a service which will answer virtually any question sent from a phone. This is a concierge service which responds to basic questions, such as stock prices, with an automated response. Those which require more analysis are responded from a cell center in the Philippines at a cost of 49 cents per inquiry.

Avaquest Software – Personal Software for Content Creation

PodMediaCreator and DVD2POD are two programs that allow consumers to create content for Apple iPod Video 5G. The PodMediaCreator is a video creation studio which runs on the PC. It supports photos, sound, test and home videos. Timeline editing is used to integrate the tracks.

DVD2POD allows for the creation of iPod video from personal DVDs and AVI files. Both programs are priced at $29.95.

WebPodStudio enables an individual to create a radio or television station on the internet. This a PodCast source. The software has a Studio Director Wizard, a teleprompter and preview mode. There is also support for integrating RSS feeds. $49.95.

Oriented to the consumer or small business, Web Easy Professional 6 is a web site authoring tool which does not require HTML. The software supports FLASH animation, pre-built templates, animations and frames. It is intended for sites <50 pages and focuses on ease of use. $49.95.

CEE - Colorwave – LED Backlighting

Colorwave was claiming 2nd generation LED backlighting for LCD displays. The claims are significant:

Reduction of power – 12% reduction of conventional backlighting

104% of the CRT Color Gamut compared to 72% for conventional backlighting. It is claimed that price parity will be reached with CCFL backlighting in 18 – 24 months.

Delivery to first customers of the Clearwave technology will happen in 2006.

Celluon – 2nd Generation Projection Keyboard – Typing on a flat surface

The Laserkey 850 is Bluetooth wireless and interfaces USB. The Li-Io battery supports 4 hours of use. It is claimed that both keyboard entry and mouse functionality can be supported using the projection technology. Pricing is expected at $200 US retail.

Chipcon – Zigbee Mouse and Keyboard

Hoping to capture share from Bluetooth Chipcon, asupplier of Zigbee silicon, was showing reference designs for a mouse and keyboard using its chips. As they said in the booth – just slap plastic around our chips. The mouse shown was using an Agilent chip.


One of the themes in the booth was built around web cams. All Creative cameras ship with video conferencing software from SightSpeed. One of the outstanding capabilities of the LiveMotion camera is to dynamically construct panoramas. This is done by stitching 5 images from the camera as it rotates about the horizontal plane.

Digital Frames

Cevia Logic

It promotes its products as a Digital Photo Receiver. They announced Pocket Digital Photo Album, This is a palm sized device for viewing images in the home. A Set Top Receiver makes it possible to show pictures on a flat panel television or projection display. A 15” digital receiver was also announced.

The basic digital receiver which includes the display costs $129.95. Service costs begin at $6.95 per month.

Digital Spectrum

Digital Spectrum was showing its MemoryVue which has VGA resolution and support for not only pictures but MPEG video and MP3 music.

Pacific Digital

Its product is called MemoryFrame. Connectivity is accomplished over WLAN. The resolution is 800 X 600. The screen is 10.4.” It has the ability to scan across designated URLs looking for images to download.


The smart fabric company had in the booth its Smart Phone Bluetooth Fabric keyboard. But the smart clothing appeared to get the most interest.

EPOS – Pen Tracking

It looks like a simple chrome snap clip, with lights, that is attached to the top of the sheet of paper.  Inside is the tracking technology that works in conjunction with a special pen. The contribution of  EPOS is that the acoustic technology used is digital. It is claimed that more than one pen can be supported at one time. Inside the snap clip is flash memory which is available to the PC when plugged into the USB port. The Digital Pen and Mouse will be available in US retail in Q2 2006. A real time version was in the booth but the WAVE did not see it in operation.

Finger Gear – An OS on a Flash Drive

Finger gear is providing a complete OS on a flash drive along with OpenOffice – called Computer on a Stick. This is a flash drive which plugs into the USB port on a computer. Included are also:

PDF creator
File Compression

One version is called the Fingerprint Edition which allows for on board authentication. Some of the specs for Computer on a Stick include:

Boots in 8 seconds
512K Flash - $149
1GB Flash - $179
2GB Flash - $219

It is available a Fry’s and the retail distribution strategy is being developed.

Flat panel speakers

Both Askimo and i-rocks were showing flat panel speakers. These are about the size of a 5 X 7 card. The sound quality was impressive for the size of the panel. The Askimo price is $30 to $40 retail.

Global Interface Technologies – UWB Their Own Way

Global Interface Technologies (GIT), out of Japan, is using its own technology to implement UWB. Shown in the booth was a:

Product development kit
Product Evaluation kit
X-i-Media Express kit – a multi access technology to allow more that one device to access the UWB signal

GlobLink – Optical Mouse that Tracks on Clear Glass

Using an elegant solution GlobLink places a small transparent ball in a chamber in the mouse. This ball drops to the surface when the mouse is in contact with glass or any other surface. The ball reflects the light from the sensor based on the Agilent chip. Since the ball rotates on any surface it will track on glass. It worked. Elegant in simplicity.

HAI – Integrating Media with Internet for Home Automation and Control

HAI has a broad set of products to support home automation. It has integrated these products with  Windows Media Center and the web. It is possible to accomplish home automation while watching content from the media center. Further, the automation allows one to designate events which will be notified by messaging on a cell phone or PDA. Access is then provided over the Internet to the system in the home.

Hopscotch – Giving Control back to Parents

Hopscotch has BoB – Back to Basics – a device which limits the amount of time a child can spend on television, PC or game console. Parents can set the time a child my use a certain device. BoB controls the power to the device. A child enters a PIN when they want to use a device. The time it may be used is determined by what the parent set and how much time the child is on the set. Price $79.95.

96% of the trial users want to buy the device.

Intranet Sendirian Bernad – Personal Productivity in a Flash Drive

Using flash memory on a USB drive allows Intranet to provide a suite of personal productivity tools. These include:

My Mail
My Eraser
My Notepad
My Encoder
My Shredder
My Directory
Auto Backup
My Wallet
Stick It Notes
and more.

LaserShield – Security in a Box

Using a large bus as the booth LaserShield had a security system which they called “World’s First Professional Grade Security Instant Security System.”  It uses a infrared motion detection system and wireless. There are two modules which look like speakers. The system can be controlled from a remote keychain and any touch tone phone. Rapid Response Monitoring provides the response service. The system is intended for consumer installation.

Loc8tor – shows personal location technology

Based on tags which are attached to valuable objects and a hand held device to show where lost items are Loc8tor allows one to locate lost objects up to 600’ away. The tag is about the size of a stamp. There are options based on the number of tags and the price ranges from $100 to $170. Winner of a show award.


One corner of the booth seemed to always be packed. Showing was the Netgear Skype WiFi phone. This is the same form factor as a typical bar phone. Netgear also has a router optimized to support Skype calls. The phone is preloaded with the Skype software. The phone makes connection over WiFi and does not need a PC. It will ship in Q1 2006 and pricing has not been  announced.

netomat – Transforming the cell phone into social medium

netomat provides a free hub that will allow for the connection of PCs with cell phones using IP. The cell phone only has to have access to the Internet and the best situation is when there is flat rate Internet access. The hub allows users to set up on the PC groups which share on a public and private basis RSS feeds, pictures, presence, publication of blogs, alerts and it is being expanded to digital content of audio and video. netomat makes available much of the flexibility, on a personal communications basis, to the cell phone as an Internet service. The intent was that this service is totally operator independent but the operators have shown an interest. Apparently they are seeking areas to use data services that will be receptive to consumers.

Pen Z – Digital Pen

Pen Z showed its combined pen, mouse and presenter. It is the shape of a pen and the movements on a surface can be tracked as a pen our mouse. There are two products with the wireless one supporting all three functions. The wired pen mouse is $16 FOB Korea with 1,000 units.

Picturereal – Transforming Home Video

The market need is simple – transforming hours of personal video into something useful and available to many. Picturereal offers a service that will digitize home videos in many formats, allow the user to edit them from the Internet and a final packaged DVD is delivered. There are a number of packages which begin at $29 per hour of raw video. In addition to DVD output the video can be made available to mobile devices and the video iPod.

Remote Solutions – Many Concepts for Remote Control

Korea based Remote Solutions had multiple products in the booth and was promoting:

No Battery Universal Remote Control
Voice Recognition Remote Control
Color Touch Screen LCD Remote Control
Home Theater Universal Remote Control


With the relative success of robotic vacuum cleaners there were many on the show floor. For example, Microrobot of Korea was showing the UBOT which scrubs, vacuums and washes. It has three cleaning modes: full, focus and corner. The unit operates on Li-ion batteries and will run for 100 minutes. Sample quantities of 100 are available for $650 FOB Korea.

RTX – Home VoIP Phones

RTX offers two phone products: Portalphone and Dualphone.

The Portalphone is geared to be a phone used with or provided by a ITSP – Internet Telephony Service Provider. There is a portal device which connects to the PSTN and a broadband Internet connection. Up to 6 phones can be supported and 3 calls at the same time. Conventional landlines are also supported. The handset uses DECT 6.0 which operates at 1.92 - 1.93 GHz. No PC is required.

The Dualphone is a combined Skype phone linked to the PC and a land line phone. The handset is cordless and the docking station plugs into the USB port of a computer. Up to 4 handsets can be supported.

Targus Shows a Family of Laser Mouse Products

These included:

Laser Wireless Desktop - $49.95
Laser Desktop - $29.95
Retractable Laser Notebook - $29.95

There are two designs for laser mouse products which fit these form factors. All are based on the PixArt chip.

Wawoo Technology – 2nd Generation Pen Mouse

The new pen mouse is wireless optical. The form factor is more natural to the hand. The mouse will stand alone on a flat surface.


WAVE Comment

In spite of 1.6m square feet of exhibit space there were few new products. Creating new markets is always difficult. It is much easier to make incremental changes which happen over time. CES was another example of this. In the end the consumer has many choices from the established CE companies, the upstarts and the rogues such as Google and Apple.