This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special
English. I'm Faith Lapidus.
I'm Bob Doughty. This week, we look at
the newest devices demonstrated at the recent International Consumer
Electronics Show. The show offered a
look at what could be the most popular electronic products this year.
Consumer Electronics Show is the world's biggest technology trade show. Industry representatives and reporters gather
at CES each January to see the next, must-have electronic devices for the
This year, the show took place between
January seventh and tenth in Las Vegas, Nevada. A record three hundred thirty businesses attended for the first
time. These can be manufacturers or
suppliers who sell products from other companies. In all, there were over twenty thousand new
products from more than two thousand five hundred businesses.
Consumer Electronics Association produces CES. It is the largest trade show of any kind in North America -- with over
one hundred thirty thousand square meters of exhibition space.
The electronics industry is hoping a new crop of
products will help it recover from an eight percent decrease in sales last year. The biggest attention-getters were the
latest 3-Dimensional high definition televisions.
Dunion is a spokeswoman for the CES. She
says 3-D televisions promise to bring the intense experience from movie
theaters to the home. The huge
popularity of 3-D films like "Avatar," "Up" and "Monsters vs. Aliens" has
many people willing to buy this costly, developing technology.
Animation made "Monsters vs. Aliens" and the popular Shrek series. The company announced last year that it would
only make 3-D films in the future. And, television networks ESPN and Discovery Communications say they plan
to operate television channels in 3-D. Big TV manufacturers like LG Electronics, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung
have all developed their own products.
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If you have seen a 3-D movie, you already know that
you need special eyeglasses to watch. Some 3-D TVs do not require special glasses. But experts say it will be years until such
technology is ready for the general market.
The latest 3-D TVs work by dividing
picture images in two, one for each eye. When each eye sees very similar, but different versions of an image, the
brain thinks it is seeing depth, or three dimensions.
the image can be done in two ways -- both using special eyeglasses. One 3-D technology uses low-cost
polarized glasses. Each side of these
devices blocks a set of images that appear in a different form of polarized
light. So each eye sees a slightly
different image, producing the 3-D effect. But TV receivers that use what is called a passive glasses system are
active glasses system requires electronic glasses that are wirelessly connected
to the television. A signal from the TV
tells each side of the glasses when to turn on and off, showing each eye
slightly different images that create the sense of depth. The switching happens so fast that the images
eyeglasses cost more -- about one hundred dollars each. But the technology for such receivers is not
too different from current flat screen TVs.
There were examples of both
technologies at the twenty-ten International CES. There were even 3-D TVs that require no
glasses at all. But 3-D TVs are
expected to cost a lot – with one selling for several thousand dollars. Still, the Consumer Electronics Association
predicts that more than four million 3-D TV sets will be sold this year.
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Digital tablets and eBook readers could
also be popular this year. These
easy-to-hold devices let you read and watch media or search the Internet and
order products. Dell and Hewlett-Packard
exhibited new tablet devices at CES.
demonstrated a product that can be used as two computing devices. The IdeaPad U-One Hybrid is a notebook
computer, which has a removable screen that becomes a digital tablet. Amazon showed versions of its popular Kindle
eBook reader. Barnes & Noble, Samsung, Sony and other companies also showed
models of eBook readers.
Apple made the biggest news when it announced that it would offer its own
digital tablet this year. Apple did not
show the product at CES, but industry watchers are extremely interested. Media reports say Apple plans to announce the
tablet, possibly called the iSlate, later this month.
netbooks, tablets are less costly ways to use the World Wide Web and digital
information. Some experts think these
easily carried devices could represent the future of computing. But their lower price means smaller profits
for manufacturers and sellers.
telephones could be a big part of the electronics industry's return to
growth. At the start of CES, Consumer
Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro made some predictions. He said fifty-two million wireless phones
will be sold in the United States this year.
Smartphones represent over thirty
percent of the market. They are phones
that search the Web, send messages and carry out applications. Their share of all mobile phones is only
expected to grow.
Google launched its Nexus One smartphone, which the
company calls a "superphone," at CES. This is Google's first attempt to sell its own electronic device. Nexus One will directly compete with Apple's
popular iPhone. It uses Google's Android
mobile operating system and is meant to work easily with Google's Web-based
Nexus One, though, is not the only new smartphone that
uses Android. Several big phonemakers
are coming out with Android-based mobile phones.
there is another group of mobile devices to watch for: Smartbooks. These are smaller and cost less than
netbooks, while still having a keyboard. They are meant for looking at Web pages and placing information on
Twitter. Manufacturers are still
developing smartbooks. But they are products
to watch in the future.
technologies have been a growing part of the International Consumer Electronics
Show for years. The CES has an area for
companies to demonstrate products that save energy, reduce waste and reuse
Show spokeswoman Jennifer Bemisderfer says the Sustainable Planet Tech Zone is four times bigger than last year. Among
the products were TVs that use light emitting diodes, or LEDs, to save energy. Some manufacturers are increasingly interested
in what has been called cradle to cradle technology. Jennifer Bemisderfer says this involves
thinking about a product's whole lifetime:
JENNIFER BEMISDERFER: "When those products are at the end of their useful life, how are they
going to be broken down? How are we
going to get some of the essential elements out of those products and have them
reused in the manufacturing process?"
of the products shown at CES require wireless connections to the Internet. Julius Genachowski is the chairman of the
Federal Communications Commission, which supervises broadcasting and
communications. Mister Genachowski spoke
at the show about the technical problems that wireless devices present.
He says they depend on a limited number of radio
wavelengths. But he says the problem can
be solved. And, he hopes to increase
wireless Internet access across the United States.
Mister Genachowski told CES that
wireless technology, or broadband, can be an engine of economic growth. And, he noted its importance to the country's
JULIUS GENACHOWSKI: "Promoting our common goals around
education, health care, energy, public safety, and, I think in each of those
areas, you actually see on the floor here new innovative ideas to take
advantage of this general purposes technology that broadband is, and apply it
to provide better services at lower cost in each of these areas."
Mister Genachowski said government
has a limited part in technology development. He said most investment is private. But he said his agency hopes to support progress by getting investors
interested in new technologies.
This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS was
written and produced by Mario Ritter with reporting by Mike O'Sullivan in Las
Vegas. I'm Faith Lapidus.
I'm Bob Doughty. Join us again next week
for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of America.