3-D Games and Avatars
The day before the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens—CES Press Day—is almost as important as the four days that follow. Every company at the convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, is trying to make as much news as possible to attract people to come and visit their booth once the show actually starts.
Many companies host press conferences on press day, including big names like Casio, Samsung, Panasonic, and Sharp. Two companies that always attract a lot of attention are Sony and Microsoft. Here are some of the highlights from their announcements.
Last year was the year of 3D TVs. This year, at least for Sony, is the year of 3D everything else.
At its press conference, Sony unveiled new products in many of its most popular lines that are 3D-enabled. For example, a new Bloggie, a small handheld video camera similar to the Flip Mino, now has two lenses that enable it to shoot 3D movies. Similarly, there's a new Cybershot camera that can take still 3D photos.
Even more impressive, you can view these videos on the devices' LCD screens without the need for 3D glasses (although if you want to watch them on a bigger screen you'll need a special monitor and the glasses).
In addition, Sony showed off a prototype for a device that is still under development. It is a head-mounted display—a pair of goggles that looks like they came straight out of the new Tron movie. When you put them on, you can watch a 3D movie or play games in 3D without needing a TV screen!
With no release timetable set, there's no knowing when (or even if) this device will come out. But regardless, it's a clear sign that 3D is here to stay.
As always, the last event of CES Press Day was the Microsoft keynote, given by CEO Steve Ballmer. With the combination of Windows, Windows Mobile, and Xbox, he had a lot of ground to cover.
The Microsoft Kinect, a motion-sensing controller for the Xbox 360, sold more than 8 million units in its first 60 days on the market. Microsoft intends for this growth to continue, and is developing new features for the system.
One new system revealed is something called Avatar Kinect. With it, you can go online into virtual worlds and chat with your friends using your Xbox Live avatars. Most impressive is that the avatar not only mimics your body movements, it can even mimic your facial expressions, such as smiling, laughing, and raising your eyebrows. Avatar Kinect is coming this Spring for Xbox Live Gold subscribers.
Another cool product at the keynote is a variety of new form factors for Windows PCs. They now come in all shapes and sizes. One is a computer without a keyboard. It has been replaced with a second screen that extends how much you can see at once. When you tap it with 10 fingers, however, it turns into a virtual keyboard.
Microsoft also showed off a laptop by Samsung with a keyboard that slides underneath the monitor and becomes a tablet.
CES Press Day is just a small taste of what's to come at CES 2011. It's exciting to imagine what still has yet to be announced. Check back to find out! The show runs from January 6-9.
PHOTO: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shows off the new Avatar Kinect feature that creates life-like avatars that mimic your own facial expressions and emotions. (Photo by Sue Broder)