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Emerging technologies CES 2008 wrap-up

Summary of emerging technology news from CES 2008.

Tom Merritt on CNET TV
Tom Merritt shows off Bug Labs' modular gadget on the CNET Stage.

In a year when several of our colleagues felt underwhelmed by the products on display at CES, the emerging technologies category provided some much-needed excitement for the year to come.

Our Best of CES winner, the Bug Labs platform, generated buzz among both CNET editors and readers with its mix of open-source hardware and software, plus an innovative pricing scheme that encourages early adoption. Though we have no doubt the product will at first appeal to tinkerers and hobbyists, we're intrigued by the prospect of a future filled with modular gadgetry.

Other technologies to catch our attention seemed to come straight out of The Jetsons: the Starry Night Sleep Technology Bed promised to cater to our every desire for leisure and entertainment; the Creative InPerson moved us one step closer to a portable videophone; and Pioneer's "Extreme Contrast Concept" showed us a future filled with currently unfathomable picture quality, thanks to its ability to produce absolute blacks.

This year's show also brought a number of consumer applications based on technologies originally developed for the government or military. The SpeechGear Compadre software suite provides instant translation of text, speech, and images. BigStage face-mapping technology has been introduced as a way to automatically create realistic avatars. And 3DV's ZCam uses next-generation 3D imaging to control video games and other interfaces through body movement and gestures.

For a glimpse of more products set to drive consumer electronics in 2008 and beyond, check out all our posts on emerging technologies.