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Ericsson CEO is a human HDMI cable, and he's not afraid

Hans Vestberg, CEO of telecom equipment maker Ericsson, took to the CES stage Wednesday and demonstrated a concept technology where the human body can be used to connect devices and transfer digital content.

Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg demonstrated during his keynote address at CES 2012 how his body could act as a "conductor" to transmit digital content from a phone to a display screen. CNET/Sarah Tew

LAS VEGAS - Imagine digitally transferring business cards with a handshake or transferring video shot on your phone to your TV simply by touching your set-top box.

Telecom equipment maker Ericsson is showing off technology at the Consumer Electronics Show here this week that allows your body to act as a connection between devices transmitting bits from a smartphone or other mobile device to a receiver such as a TV or stereo system. The company has a demonstration set up at its booth here.

Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson, who gave a keynote speech here Wednesday, demonstrated how it works on stage. He acted as a conductor showing how video could be transferred from an Android smartphone to a monitor on the stage.

Josh Lowensohn, who was live-blogging the event for CNET, said he could imagine the slogan when and if this technology ever hits the market. Instead of Microsoft Kinect's slogan "You are the controller," Ericsson's would be, "You are the HDMI cable."

Ericsson engineers at the Ericsson booth at CES 2012 show off the "human HDMI" demonstration.

While the technology is still only a concept, Vestberg highlighted it as just one example of how Ericsson engineers are innovating and pushing boundaries in connecting devices via mobile networks throughout the world.

During his speech, Vestberg said that today there are about 1 billion mobile broadband users today. By 2015 he said that figure will jump to 5 billion. And he noted that the Swedish telecom infrastructure equipment maker has built networks that carry more than 40 percent of the world's wireless traffic. And it will continue to provide the underlying network infrastructure that makes connecting billions of people to each other via wireless networks possible.

"Our role is to build the networks to support the innovation we see here," Vestberg said. "We used to say that when one person gets connected to the network their life changes. But with everything connected, the world changes."

In addition to the "human HDMI," Vestberg also showed off a tree loaded with embedded 4G chipsets that were all connected to a 4G wireless network and could send messages via Twitter.

Also during the keynote, Vestberg announced a new partnership with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where they will work on various projects to track people and things via GPS and wireless networks to see how people use networks. MIT professor Carlo Ratti joined Vestberg on stage to show off some of the projects already underway. The Trash Track is a project where bits of rubbish have been tagged and are then mapped. This allows researchers to see where trash ultimately ends up.

Ratti also talked about a project in which MIT tagged 40 laptops that were sent and tracked around the world. One of the laptops was stolen from an office, and it was tracked via GPS. The researchers were able to get images of the thief.

Through its research with Ericsson, MIT will help Ericsson understand how people are using wireless networks. One graphic shown during the keynote depicted a visualization of traffic broken up by data type. And it looked like it was coming in like sand filling a glass jar, CNET's Josh Lowensohn said during the live blog of the event.

Ericsson also announced a partnership with the world's largest shipping company, Maersk Line, which will use Ericsson technology to outfit its 400 vessels with wireless antennas and GSM base stations that will establish a wireless communications network at sea. Ericsson, which already manages the wireless network for large wireless carriers, such as Sprint Nextel, will provide global managed services support for the network at sea for the next seven years.