International Consumer Electronics Show Presents Latest Technology

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I'm Pat Bodnar. And I'm Steve Ember with Explorations in VOA Special English. Today, we visit the International Consumer Electronics Show, or CES. This four-day gathering takes place every year in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is one of the most important events in the technology industry.

The goal of CES is for companies to show their products before they are for sale to the general public. CES is the largest yearly consumer electronics show in the world. It is the largest trade show of any kind in America. This year, two thousand five hundred companies from more than one hundred countries attended the event.  It is estimated that more than one hundred and fifty thousand people visited the show earlier this month.

The Consumer Electronic Show started about thirty years ago in New York City. The Consumer Electronics Association organizes the event.  At first, this show was small but it has grown a great deal. Many important products have been introduced at this event over the years. For example, the videocassette recorder made its first appearance at CES in nineteen seventy.  The CD player was shown for the first time at CES in nineteen eighty-one.

This year, the International Consumer Electronics Show took place from January fifth to the eighth. Visiting CES is an exciting experience. It is so large that two convention centers and three hotels are needed to show all of the products. There are so many flashing lights and big colorful signs that it is hard to know where to look first. As you explored the show, you were surrounded by thousands of people speaking in many different languages about one common idea -- technology.

To help visitors, the show is organized by color-coded areas. Each color represents one kind of product. For example, one area is just for electronic games. Another area contains digital televisions. Other kinds of products include home security systems, digital cars, and wireless communications.

This kind of organization is helpful because CES takes up almost one hundred fifty thousand square meters of space. Within each color-coded area are many booths. These booths are enclosed areas that companies pay for to show their products. Some booths are only a few square meters.

Other companies like Sony of Japan had big booths that can fit hundreds of people. Sony showed many exciting entertainment products this year. One very interesting new technology is wireless television.

Sony showed how its service called "location free" television works. With an Internet connection and a special Sony computer or television, you can watch TV programs from anywhere in your house. You can even watch movies and TV while you are traveling.

The company makes another new product called the Sony Reader. This small device permits you to store up to eighty electronic books. Instead of turning the pages of a book, you click on the screen to continue reading.  You can hold your whole library in one hand! The Sony Reader will be for sale this spring.

Another area of the International Consumer Electronics Show was in a hotel called Alexis Park. Here, instead of going into a booth, you enter a hotel room to look at the electronics. The companies here mostly make high performance audio devices. These products are designed to produce excellent sound quality when you listen to music and movies.

For example, in one room you could hear the speakers made by the Amphion company from Finland. Speakers are the devices that produce sound.  Amphion speakers are carefully designed to produce a natural live sound when you listen to music.

To do this, the company's technology experts have studied the way the human ear works. Using these studies, they have made speakers that reproduce the sound the human ear hears best.  When you listen to music on these speakers, the sound is clear and rich. It is as if the musician is sitting next to you.

In another room, you could see a product called the Kaleidescape System from an American company.  It looks like a large white box with blue lights. This product is able to store thousands of DVD movies and CD music albums. You simply have to load your movies and music and it stores them as digital information.

The device is linked by the Internet to the Kaleidescape company's database. It provides you with an image and explanation of every movie and song. This way the Kaleidescape lets you search through hundreds of titles with the click of a button.

This system has a huge amount of memory. It can store more than five terabytes of information. This means you can have more than eight hundred DVD's stored in one place. But this big memory comes at a big price. The price for this system starts at more than twenty thousand dollars.

Outside the hotel, next to the  swimming pool, the American company Doron showed a very different device. Their large machine looks like a car without windows. The roof of the "car" opens up to show seats for several people.  Once you get inside, the Doron representative closes the door. Inside, there is a large movie screen that plays a battle scene in space. As the actors and spaceships move around in the movie, the "car" you are in moves up, down and around.

It is as though you are living the movie, with all of its sights, sounds, and motions. Doron makes these "active entertainment" devices for use in places like amusement parks.

The International Consumer Electronics Show also has more traditional technologies. For example, a company called Eton showed its many shiny and colorful radios. This German company has been making high quality radios for years.  Eton says that it is reinventing radios by centering on design and necessity. Their radios have excellent sound and also look great.

One model receives satellite radio. This kind of new digital radio permits listeners to have many choices of special channels.  Another radio model represents an agreement between Eton and the American Red Cross.

This radio is powered by batteries so it can be useful during an emergency when there is no electricity. The radio even comes with an Emergency Preparedness Guide.  Still another model combines AM, FM, digital and shortwave radio.

The International Consumer Electronics Show is not just about looking at electronics. You could listen to famous industry leaders talk about new devices and technologies. For example, Bill Gates, the chief of Microsoft Corporation, gave a speech that opened CES. He talked about the sales growth of personal computers. He also talked about his company's newest software that will be for sale later this year. Bill Gates described a future where people are surrounded and connected by many useful technologies.

Companies at CES often invite well-known actors, singers, musicians and athletes to their events. For example, the company Monster Cable had a special concert for its guests. At this event the singer Stevie Wonder gave a live performance. The Internet company Yahoo invited the famous actor Tom Cruise to one of its presentations. The actor Robin Williams made an appearance at a talk by leaders of the company Google.

This is the first time that Yahoo and Google have attended CES. These Internet companies have a big influence on the electronics market. For example, both companies are developing ways to provide television programs to computers and cell phones.

Companies that make cell phones and computer programs want to be part of this technology revolution. Television broadcast companies are also working to create partnerships with Google and Yahoo. The Internet companies are changing the way people receive media. Experts say these changes are redefining the way the world uses technology and digital information.

CES has become one of the most important gatherings of the technology industry. Each year, the industry leaders show their newest inventions. Who knows what technological magic will be presented next year.

This program was written by Dana Demange. It was produced by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember. And I'm Pat Bodnar. Join us again next week for Explorations in VOA Special English.

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