Looking Back at CES 2011

I attended the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada last week. Lots of articles are out there concerning the general tenor of the thing and the hot topics. In summary, the show is still The Big Thing for the consumer electronics industry, with upwards of 130,000 attendees. The exhibitors are thinking that mobile computing, especially with tablets, is going to continue to be huge. For entertainment, makers of monitors, TVs, and video projector systems all are convinced that 3D is going to finally achieve the big market acceptance they’ve been pushing for lo these many years.

The show itself took up the entire Las Vegas Convention Center, all the halls and all their levels. There were exhibitors also at the Hilton and the Venetian hotels. Having so many attendees come into Las Vegas put a bit of a strain on the transport from the airport; I heard reports of fifty minute cab rides for the trip. Putting all the attendees into the halls with the exhibitors made for quite the crowded experience. I don’t recommend it to people who get upset about intrusions into their personal space. There is simply too much show for any one person to survey it completely. Of course, most attendees will have a fairly narrow set of high priorities, which helps cut down on the number of venues and halls to be visited.

Compared to past shows, there was far less distribution of promotional goods and even a lot of cutting back on providing printed materials. Some places provided quarter-sheet cards pointing to websites with information. This points to a tightening-up of the market, I think. One conversation I overhead at a middle-sized exhibit was that the exhibitor had spent about a million dollars to come and present at CES. They did have printed materials to hand out, I should note.

The opening day “CES Daily” magazine had an article noting that the industry should be putting effort into promoting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. There were a couple of exhibitors I noted who had education in mind in their offerings, but it is tough to gauge commitment to science education from a trade show. Hopefully, the attendees and exhibitors paid some attention to the article. If innovation is what is looked to for saving economies around the globe, preparation in the educational system is a critical component to enable that to happen. Here in the USA, I think there is way too much complacency, with our past record of technological prominence luring people into a comfortable sense that things will continue in that way. They aren’t doing so, and it is time that we acted to correct the downward trend we have concerning STEM education and career choices.

I’ll be posting about specific things I saw at CES 2011 as I get both time and my photos processed.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.