Ah, CES. What wonders it holds each year. And what a deluge of news stories. Which I have sifted through and picked out what I think will actually matter. Read on…
- A new survey says that only 48% of consumers were watching cable TV in 2011, down from 71% in 2009. I wonder if we’re going to see the TV turn into a peripheral for the internet and mobile devices, rather than being the central media device?
- We’re used to touchscreens by now, but what about touch-sensitive clothing or upholstery?
- Touchscreens are coming to the kitchen, now, too: A touchscreen is the controller for an induction stove, which can selectively heat whatever is on its surface, wherever it’s placed.
- Liquipel is a new waterproof coating for the innards of your electronics; we may be looking at the beginning of widespread waterproofing of anything and everything electronic. [Update, 1/11: Here’s another brand that’s looking to do the same thing.]
- You’re at a conference (say, CES) and your cell is about to die. You don’t want to be tied to a wall socket waiting for it to recharge, so what do you do? Plug it into your backpack. The Powerbag is a backpack with a battery built in, which can charge your electronics while you’re on the go. And they thoughtfully provided some attending reporters with some, just to make sure that we heard about it.
- Somebody’s finally built a couple of wall sockets with built-in USB plugs. All I have to say is, it’s about time.
- 3D printing is trying to make a move into the home market – for reals, this time – and the Cube and MakerBot’s new two-color printer called the Replicator are the contenders that I’ve seen in the coverage of CES today.
- Sheesh, talk about a wonder-material. Scientists have found another use for graphene. Again! This time they’ve tinkered with the isotope make-up of the material, which creates a form of the stuff that’s apparently very good at dissipating heat. So now, even if we can’t figure out a way to make graphene computer chips, we’ll be able to use graphene to keep our old-fashioned silicon chips cool.
- Scientists have recreated the white, fungus-filled layer that coats some types of cheese. Why am I talking about fungus and cheese, you ask? Because the layer that they’ve created could be used to keep a surface permanently clean – it eats organic material (like bacteria) that falls onto it, and it can theoretically live forever as long as there’s enough moisture in the air.
- The Marines are looking for a new brain/control-system for their robots – something that doesn’t need its hand held going from one place to another, and that can be plugged into multiple different platforms.
- And speaking of military robots… The US military’s airfleet is now 1/3 UAVs. I repeat: one third of all aircraft in the US military is now unmanned. Mind you, this includes the itty-bitty ones that are launched by hand, but that’s still an… interesting milestone, considering that the number was 5% in 2005. I wonder when it’ll become 50%? or 90%?
- Is NASA thinking of sending another lander to Venus? It’s not a particularly hospitable environment, what with a temperature around 1000*F, massive air pressure and a choking atmosphere. Still, NASA’s building a hell-on-Earth simulator for wannabe Venusian probes, so they seem to be considering the possibility…
- As the author says, “Well, this is a bad way to start the year.” Mumbai doctors have said that they’ve discovered a new strain of tuberculosis that is completely resistant to all known TB drugs. Uh-oh.
- On a more hopeful note… Google Flu Trends is a program that tracks the amount of search activity on flu and flu symptoms – which has a notable correlation with flu infections and emergency room visits. Yet another useful and unexpected tool provided by the rise of the web.
- China is planning to reshuffle its energy bureaucracies, aiming to streamline its energy decision-making. This also includes implementing a (small) carbon tax in the next four years.