Published Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009 | 1:08 p.m.
Updated Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009 | 3:24 p.m.
Okay, I have to admit it, my view of CES has been pretty biased until now. I had an agenda the last couple of days. I was intent on seeing every car in every display at the show, and I had little regard for the other displays. Well, today that changed.
I decided to hit up the International Gateway section of displays in the Las Vegas Hilton. I was thinking there might be some nice foreign cars in the area... As I cruised down the aisles past the myriad of iPod knockoffs, home speaker systems, cell phone covers, and other portable electronic device accessories, I stumbled upon some diamonds in the ruff so to speak.
The first one that stopped me in my tracks was SmartPen from Pen Laboratory, Inc. SmartPen is a device that is a pen for writing, and at the same time a bluetooth pointer that operates as a mouse. The obvious applications are artists and educators, but one of the more interesting future applications is electronic medical records (EMR). Doctors or nurses can write on the paper, seeing what they are doing, and if carrying a computer with them, it will all be captured on that device. The beauty of this format is it provides a seamless backup work-flow when servers or EMR software are on the fritz. Such a thing has the added bonus of saving valuable patient time, and keeping the level of service in doctors offices and hospitals much higher.
The second eye-popping device was the Media Board. A full interactive, multi-touch media board that is targeted for public kiosks. The demonstration included the ability to open and enlarge images with two touches, much like some of the features on an iPhone. But images were not the limit, you could do that with videos, audio, and full-page newspapers. The boards are all in high definition, and the response time is instantaneous. Sadly, as with many of the devices in this area, WorldBridge T&T, makers of the Multi-Touch Media Board deal with business to business customers only, so seeing this in your home, not likely. Though a city wishing to outfit it's public transit lines with interactive maps would have a huge benefit from this product.
The third thing that caught my attention took me back to my early days in computing. NComputing has a desktop virtualization tool that basically lets you turn one PC into 11 for their smaller scale users, and one PC into 30 for their larger scale applications. The 11 PC setup monitors, keyboards, mice included cost a mere $2500 to setup, plus a standard $1000 dell business workstation. You can purchase a windows license for each of the implementations adding $150 per workstation. Or you can go ultra cheap, and use it with either Ubuntu or Suse Linux with no licensing fees on each virtual workstation. I have to admit I really geeked out with this one. With all the schools, and libraries I have used and all the businesses I have worked in over the years, adding workstations is expensive on so many levels. And this product solves the problem at all those levels. While reducing the initial purchase costs by up to 70 percent, there is also the ongoing savings of only 1 computer to upgrade, and power usage that comes in under 5 watts for the workstation itself. Compare that to the need to replace a workstation every 3 years and they use a minimum of 100 watts for normal use. This is a huge money saver, and green at the same time. Boy am I glad I stepped into the International Gateway, even though they had no cars on display.