Las Vegas, NV–Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect for Microsoft Corp., utilized the 2004 International CES to launch his concept of seamless computing last week at the Consumer Electronics Show. The theme of seamless computing, Gates explained, is the ability to bring devices together into one connected world. Gates explained that software and broadband technology are the building blocks to making seamless computing a reality.
Much to the surprise of the CES audience, Gates introduced world renown talk show host Jay Leno to the stage to help promote MSN.com, a personalized homepage full of the customized information, photo sharing and streaming video capabilities, as well as top content from such providers as NBC, Discovery Channel, HGTV, Weather Channel and others. Gates then segued into MSN Direct, a new service that connects with SPOT technology offering personalized information such as news, sports, stocks and weather to consumers’ SPOT-enabled watches.
Keeping in theme with seamless access to content, Gates switched gears to discuss briefly the concept of seamless entertainment. Central to this concept is the ability of various entertainment devices such as DVD players, audio players and digital imaging technology to interconnect throughout the home via the MSN Media Center.
Playing off that concept, Gates introduced Windows Media Vision HD, a powerful piece of technology allowing content available on your PC to be transmitted into high-definition. The stage then was set for a demonstration of a new Portable Media Center allowing consumers to transfer their movies, music, photos, and other content from a PC to a portable device the size of a wallet. Gates briefly touched on the Xbox Media Center Extender Kit that allows the Xbox to connect to a PC and access content for playback through the gaming console.
Gates’ keynote complimented a morning presentation by Chief Xbox Officer Robbie Bach at the first-ever Digital Games Summit, produced by iHollywood Forum in conjunction with CES. Bach spoke of consumers’ digital lifestyle wish-list where people demand access to the content they own whenever and wherever they please. The approach to meeting this demand, Bach explained, is to utilize the PC as the gateway to the home to store, manage and access content anywhere in the home in any format. As Gates later reinforced in this speech, Bach stated software and services will help make this easier to accomplish.
Some of the exciting news announced by exhibitors already at CES illustrates the industry’s movement to portable digital content. Audiovox launched new Jensen and Advent home audio products, the first since Audiovox acquired the two brands. LG Electronics introduced the first Blu-Ray recorder, combining the new high-capacity recordable digital media format and a 200-gigabyte hard drive capable of recording high-definition content. Philips Electronics introduced the Streamium television that allows consumers to access video and audio content through a wireless or wired Ethernet connection. Entropic Communications and Toshiba demonstrated a revolutionary method of networking high-definition television (HDTV) throughout an average home over coaxial cable. Thomson unveiled an array of RCA Scenium ultra-thin digital cable-ready integrated rear-projection HDTV sets. Sharp Electronics launched the 45-inch Aquos, the world’s largest widescreen liquid crystal HDTV set. And, Deja View and Toshiba announced first-quarter availability of the world’s first wearable camcorder.