One thing that struck me as I walked through the displays of gadgets and gizmos at the International Consumer Electronics Show was how CES 2010 had made good on a word that was often used in the last decade, but hadn’t seen much mention recently: “convergence”.
The idea of living room convergence, where multiple technologies come together in the comfort of one room, used to be an often mentioned dream of technology innovators who wanted to accomplish the tasks performed by TVs, VCRs, computers, telephones and more via a single box that could live on a shelf in your house.
The use of the term died out at CES over the years, but recently we’ve begun to see the dream become reality. Last year saw the rise of Netflix streaming movies coming via the Internet to XBox 360s, PS3 and Internet-enabled Blu-ray players. This year, it arrives in the form of HDTVs with built-in app stores that can run games, get weather updates or stream movies directly from multiple network sources.
One of the apps that I saw that I think will make a huge change over time was the Skype app on a few Panasonic and LG HDTVs shown at CES. The technology that allows video conferencing using a webcam and Internet connection isn’t new, but the ease at which it can be performed with an app built into the TV will make adoption and use explode. Could Skype-enabled HDTVs kill home telephone lines more so than mobile phones have?
Another example of convergence is the ease at which Blue Label 2.0 laptops from Toshiba, Dell and Sony can connect wirelessly to an HDTV using Intel’s new Wireless Display technology. A Netgear HDMI wireless receiver connects to the HDMI port on your TV, and setup consists of a clicks on the laptop. Computing from the couch will be easier than ever.
So what’s the future of convergence? Well, check out the video predictions of the Geek Squad Chief Inspector for our guess. Hint: It may involve bionic eyes.