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Technology of 2011

January 27, 2011

by Robert Wilson, ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

With scores of cutting-edge technology housed in shiny, often futuristic, cases from some of the world’s largest companies as well as keynotes speeches from the CEOs of those same companies, the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show had something to please everyone’s inner tech geek.

Refrigerators with Wi-Fi, alpine goggles with built-in GPS and an innovative hybrid-viewfinder digital camera were among the many groundbreaking products presented at the CES Jan. 6-9 in Las Vegas.

One of this year’s biggest breakthroughs is the CES People’s Voice Award winner, the Razer Switchblade gaming laptop. The Switchblade is a concept design combining a touch-screen with a versatile keyboard that changes appearance based on the game being played. Also, the laptop is to operate like a normal netbook. Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan was quoted by cnet.com as saying the Switchblade is to be a product “that will change the future of gaming.”

For consumers who yearn for Internet access in the kitchen is the Samsung RF3289 refrigerator, branded by the company as the world’s first fridge to feature intergrated Wi-Fi. Its features include options to leave digital memos, Tweet, organize a calendar and even play Pandora.

The Spracht Aura Z Cam HD conference camera won a CES Best of Innovations award for its state-of-the-art focus system called Solid State Focus. With no moving parts, the focus is designed to decrease vulnerability to shock and vibration. The Aura Z also features 720p HD video at 30 fps, dual MEMS microphones, Mac and PC compatibility and a unique stand folded out of the camera’s outer casing. The camera is supported by almost all video conferencing software like Skype and iChat.

Even law enforcement is making an upgrade with the Taser International’s X12 shotgun. Boasting an 82-foot range and wireless, self-contained rounds with fold-out wings for stable flight, the X12 looks to be an ideal weapon for handling large crowds.

Combining an old-fashioned look with a 21st-century display system is the Fujifilm Finepix X100. The viewfinder is optical, but with the flip of a switch a display appears inside the viewfinder with all the information standard on current digital camera screens. The X100 should provide precision shots with an easy-to-carry handibility. However, at the current price between $1,000-$1,200, many camera enthusiasts may have to save for the purchase.

Out of all of the exhibitions, only one product was crowned Best in Show: the Motorola Xoom. A multi-functional tablet with features designed to rival the iPad, the Xoom includes, according to cnet.com “standard front-and rear-facing cameras…a larger screen with better resolution, supports Adobe Flash and uses Verizon’s network.”

The Xoom will be able to support Google’s multi-tasking operating system, Honeycomb, and can be upgraded from 3G to 4G LTE later this year.

Recon Instruments’ Transcend alpine goggles are the world’s first GPS-enabled goggles on a head-mounted display system. Designed in collaboration with Colorado’s Zeal Optics, the goggles are to require minimal interaction as well as an unobscured front and peripheral view.  Users will be able to display speed, coordinates, distance travelled, stopwatch mode, temperature and time as well as provide GPS capabilities and a USB charging and data transfer.

Also for gamers is the Digital Storm Black Ops 3D HD multi-gaming system.  Aiming for total immersion, the system utilizes three side-by-side monitors and a pair of special glasses to create an expansive 3-D experience. 

Etymotic Research, Inc. unveiled a new type of earplugs designed for soldiers in the field, who often forego hearing-protection aids out of concern of decreased situational awareness, resulting in damaged hearing and tinnitus. The High-Fidelity Electronic BlastPLG comes in two models, the EB1, designed for hunters, and the EB15 which is geared toward soldiers, construction workers, musicians or other people frequently surrounded by loud noise. Both models protect hearing from loud impulse noise, allow for natural hearing during quiet periods and include switches to boost faint noises.

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