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Geek Speak: A new year of (hopefully) innovation

And so we come to a new year, and while I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, one of my favorite times of year is just now starting. It's not a holiday for me - it is the International Consumer Electronics Show. All the cool people just call it CES. And every year starts with this event in which almost all the major tech names (save Apple, and this year for the first time, Microsoft, they fancy themselves too good to show up with the rest of the world) come and talk about some of their biggest ideas for the year, including often unveiling new products, usually the ones they hope will change the market in some way. Although, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer did make an appearance in the middle of this year's keynote address, "interrupting" Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs in a clearly staged moment. You can watch a video of the moment, deeply awkward for everyone involved, here.

It's not open to just anyone, but it is more of a trade show than a convention. Industry people come together to talk about their products and ideas, to be sure, but this even is really about companies spinning media and hype in their direction. It's the event that sets the stage for the rest of the year.

Now, a lot of this might not be terrible interesting to the average person, but to a geek, this is one of the biggest weeks of the year. One of the reasons no one really notices or cares about CES outside of geekdom is that a lot of what is going on in still in the post-production or prototype phases, and isn't going to hit the market anytime terribly soon, so we don't put it in the Business section very often, unless something truly groundbreaking is announced. Even so, CES has new ideas for everything from the newest, tiniest, fasted processor to new and exciting things in the automotive industry. And the past few years have seen automaker attendance skyrocket, and this year there looks to be more than ever before. And it is these ideas that eventually make their way into the devices you use every day.

One of the first things I noticed that is coming out of CES this year has been talked about for a while now - processors that are, again, smaller while being twice as fast about twice as powerful. In addition to once again upping the level of computer across the board, they will allow something that many might think is overkill: 4096×2304 resolutions. That is more than double the standard 1920x1080 resolution we now call HD. They are calling this, perhaps unsurprisingly, "Ultra HD." There comes a point of diminishing returns with this sort of thing, and maybe we've already hit it, but many people, myself included, and excited to see a display like this up close and in person.

Several companies, notable LG and Samsung, are talking about new motion- and voice-controls for televisions as well. There is talk of eventually having fully-integrated everything, akin to the old Google home idea that never panned out well, in which everything in your home can be controlled with one device or using your voice. Just imagine for a moment, not just turning on your TV or channel channels by talking about it, but turning on your shower or car to let it heat up in the winter, before you are even out of bed, or setting your coffee brewing. With that level of integration, the possibilities really are limitless. There is of course also talk of motion controls for computers, which is to be expected with the advent of tablets and Microsoft's Windows 8 which works basically like a big mean tablet.

Also, Corning (yes, the same people who came up with that great, durable glass kitchenware, though they have sold most of that part of their business off) is unveiling new and improved Gorilla Glass, or as I like to think of it, transparent aluminum. They say it is three times as strong as the second version, and more resistant to scratches. They are also planning to release some cool fiber-optic data cables for various purposes, which is only going to be good for data integrity and transmission distances. Of course, with everything going wireless these days, including charging, these might be of limited use in the long-term.

Surely, the interesting news will keep on coming over the next few days. Often, the marketing gurus save their best news for last.

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