There were televisions and tablets, phones and cars. The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is the biggest event of its kind in the world and was as big as ever this year. Tech geeks waiting to see the next best thing were not disappointed.
But sometimes the real charmers of CES are the dreamers, the inventors, the innovators — the small start-ups with neat little ideas that are looking for investors and distributors, buyers and buzz. Some of these companies attract the attention of the big companies who break out their checkbooks knowing it's sometimes easier to buy a company and all of its patents than to try to copy them.
Here's a list of some of the non-mainstream technologies to come out of the show this year:
SpareOne showed off a cell phone with a 15-year battery life. No, really — it's just a phone (no screens, no music players, no anything), but it can reportedly go for 15 years on a single AA battery (assuming they make an AA battery that can last that long). The phones are not meant for general consumption, but for emergency use in cars and boats, within hotels, with sponsored events and so on.
The Tobii Gaze is a laptop with a weird middle section that actually tracks your eye movements, and lets you navigate by adjusting your gaze. It's a new technology, but it's potential was obvious according to reviewers — in particular for people with disabilities and users such as doctors or musicians who might have their hands full when using a computer.
The Tamaggo is a new camera that can take 360 degree photos, taking photos as it tracks your movement and stitching those images together.
The Warpia Connect HD is an accessory that unites your television and computer to allow you to video conference through your TV. There's also some talk of using it to play PC webcam-based games, whatever those are. (While it seems like an idea with potential, Samsung showed off a line of televisions with built-in cameras and apps, and sound and gesture-based navigation.)
The Wikipad is a pair of analog controllers and detachable tablet for hardcore gamers, and includes glasses-free 3D and a 1080p high definition display. Razer's Project Fiona is a similar concept, although it was hinted that the version released in 2012 would be a tablet running Windows 8 with enough hardware for serious PC gaming.
BlueStacks is an app that will run Android apps on Windows Phone 7/Windows 8 devices, set to flood the market in 2012.
The I'm Watch is a smart watch that runs a stripped down version of Android 1.6 that can talk to your phone, play music, give updates from Facebook and Twitter, and run native apps.