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Hot and Not on the CES show floor

The Hot CES Trend award goes to gestural interfaces -- think air-groping -- while poor HD DVD is saddled with the Not-Hot Award.


Hot: Gestural interfaces
At the consumer level, 2007 was the year of the touchscreen. Products like the iPhone, iPod touch, LG's Prada phone and HP's TouchSmart PC made it perfectly acceptable to stroke the screens of your gadgets in public.

What we've seen at CES this year is more advanced interactivity -- gestural interfaces where you don't even need to touch the screen. This concept has appeared previously in products like the Nintendo Wii, but the technology is becoming a lot more sophisticated.

An example is Toshiba's Spurs Engine -- still in the concept stage -- which allows you to control your laptop by making hand movements in front of the in-built webcam. During a demo at their stand, Toshiba reps showed off a pointless-yet-awesome application of this: being able to pause or resume a DVD by holding a hand in the air.


In jotting down our pre-show predictions for CES, we wrote that "we expect that the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray will be front and centre once again". Well, it sure was, but there was a dramatic twist -- in an announcement two days before the show opened, Warner Bros. confirmed it will switch camps from HD DVD to Blu-ray in the next six months, giving Blu-ray a 68.4 percent share of the studio market.

The decision had major ramifications at CES. There were the official statements; the HD DVD group pulled the plug on their press conference while Toshiba issued a release that may as well have been written by a spurned ex-lover. ("Toshiba is quite surprised by Warner Bros.' decision to abandon HD DVD ... We worked closely together to help standardise the first-generation DVD format as well as to define and shape HD DVD").

These responses all but confirmed that it's curtains for HD DVD. Pity the poor reps tasked with demonstrating HD DVD products on the show floor -- while stands involving Blu-ray were well-trafficked and filled with enthusiastic onlookers, HD DVD players were quietly being hidden under the tables.