Monday, January 18, 2010

CES 2010

Last week, I spent 4 days in Las Vegas for the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show. My primary goal was to network, but I did get a chance to spend a day walking the floor of the show. It's an overwhelming experience, as there are literally thousands of companies, most with extravagant product demos, booth babes, and a myriad of light-emitting displays that surprisingly did not bring about instant seizures.

3D technology, in displays and gaming, was undoubtedly the prevalent theme of CES 2010, with every major electronics manufacturer unveiling their 3D television. In fact, Panasonic's VT25 series won CNETs Best of CES award and will likely become the first 3D television to hit the market. This space is definitely starting to explode, with several networks - including ESPN and Discovery - announcing plans to launch dedicated 3D networks in 2010. I must admit, having just seen Avatar, I'm intrigued by the prospect of watching the World Cup in 3D this year. The displays are fabulous and, in many of the demos, I could really see how gaming and certain types of content could really benefit from this technology. The only downside is that they require you to wear fairly large 3D glasses (which must also draw their own power). Trust me, they look kind of ridiculous. Furthermore, there seems to be a fundamental perspective problem with the technology as the quality of the 3D effect degrades to the point of causing headaches as you move away from a 90 degree angle with the display. Are people really going to have 10 pairs of 3D glasses on hand to have their friends over to watch football on a Sunday? I'm not sure that the technology will get broad adoption until someone figures out how to cheaply replicate the effect without relying on the glasses (and 3M is working on it...)

I probably have an unconventional view of "what's cool", but here's my (short) list of most interesting technologies that I saw on the floor, primarily because they pertained to improving the environment and trying to address the most challenging problem facing the world: energy.
  • Chevy Volt - yes, I know EVs have been announced for quite some time, but this was the first time I actually got to see this car in person. It's a sexy car and the fact that you can monitor and control it using your iPhone sealed the deal for me. How awesome is that? I'm getting one... well, that is, if my Tesla Model S order falls through.

  • Panasonic's Fuel Cell Cogeneration System - this is essentially a residential fuel cell that can generate electricity and hot water from natural gas (hydrogen) and oxygen from the air. These are the same polymer membrane exchange fuel cells that are powering vehicles, but can now heat and power your home while reducing your energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Durability and cost are likely a concern, but I have to imagine that these things will improve over time as this technology is commercialized and hits mass market. Here's a picture of the unit they had on display (kind of looks like a Flux Capacitor, right?):
It's pretty easy to see how changing the way individuals consume energy in their daily lives can have a tremendous impact on the long-term sustainability of the planet.

There were a bunch of other gadgety things that were interesting, notably Sony's video camera stabilization technology and LED TVs that were as thick as an iPhone, but I didn't get a chance to take pictures of those. I did get cornered at the Sony booth to do a video interview about what I saw as the future of in-home media consumption, which you can happily see after the jump (cut to 2:17):

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's Already 2010?!?

It feels like I blinked my eye and it's already 2010. What happened to the last decade? Well, according to Back To The Future II, we're about 5 years away from flying cars and Mattel hoverboards. While I don't anticipate wearing multiple ties anytime soon, it's pretty amazing how much things have changed in 10 years. I didn't even have a cell phone in 2000... today, it feels strange to go 30 minutes without looking at my phone. 2010 is a big year for me -- I'm turning 30!

2009 has been an interesting year for me -- certainly not one of my best -- so I can say that I'm eagerly looking forward to a fresh start in 2010. First, though, I wanted to look back on my "resolutions" from last year to see how well I did, because, it's kind of pointless to be making resolutions if I can't evaluate how I've done. By my calculations, I got a 43%, which is terrible.

2009:
  • Travel internationally at least twice - I traveled to Peru and Puerto Rico (which I guess counts as a 1/2).
  • Take at least 3 vacations that don't involve travelling home or going to weddings - I got the 2 above and a trip to Vail.
  • Blog at least once a week for the entire year - Nowhere close.
  • Launch a new website around a biz idea I have - Fail.
  • Buy a house - Fail.
  • Start reading again; it's sad when I think about the last real book I've read - Got a little better at this, however not close to what I wanted.
  • Buy a new road bike - Done!, and started religiously riding.
  • Break 90 in an 18-hole round - Only played a handful of times.
  • Speak on 2 panels - Done!, I think I spoke on 5.
  • Grow out my hair - Tried it, it looked bad, so scrapped the idea (no pictures forthcoming).
  • Be better about staying in touch with people - Better, but could do more.
  • Hike Half Dome - Fail.
  • Build a better Howcast - We're working on it, 2010 will be a big year!
  • Start writing code again - Fail.
  • Read the newspaper - Better.
  • Start investing again - Better, but not complete.
  • Less ESPN, More CNN - I think this may be practically impossible for me.
And, here's my master to-do list for 2010:
  • Buy a new apartment in SF by the end of March
  • Start cooking regularly
  • Ride AIDS/LifeCycle
  • 40 blog posts in 2010 (repeat)
  • Take an international trip
  • Launch my business idea (repeat)
  • Read at least 20 books
  • Re-learn French
  • Stop snoozing through my alarm clock
  • Take an international personal trip
  • Regularly play tennis
  • Half dome (repeat)
  • Get good at golf
  • Get at least a 80% on my resolutions
  • Redacted