Tuesday, January 24, 2012

“Miracles” in the Sin City (Final)

In political terms, we are called citizens; in economic terms, consumers; socially, friends, fans, or followers; and in scientific and religious terms, creatures formed either by evolution and/or by the hand of an Infinite Supreme Being.  Commonly, we are the sovereign people endowed with certain inalienable rights and powers that define us as political, economic, social, and scientific/religious beings.

With the help of my barber, I have endeavored to describe and analyze the issues and interests affecting our species based on experience, exposure, examples and exhibits. My series on the CES 2012 is one such demonstration focusing on us being consumers.

While the interest has been mainly on smartphones and tablets, the fact is, there are other new products that attracted the attention of the consumers.


In the “Last Gadget Standing”, one of the 10 finalists was the Origami power-folding stroller.  I took a video of it being demoed and showed it to some selected parents later.  Just hit a button and it “collapses in just a few seconds time, making it compact enough to slip into most trunks and other storage areas.”

There is a sensor built into the seat that detects the presence of your baby and preventing him from being squashed. It also sports an LCD screen which displays mileage walked. During the night, lights are provided. The wheel system is also regenerative that powers its electronics functionalities including the recharging of your cell phone.  Targeted consumers such as the Moms, Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas should love it!

The actual winner in the contest was the Lytro Camera. It is a revolutionary camera that allows users to “Shoot now, focus later.” What it means is that photographers can actually set focus after taking the photo.

It has an 8x optical touch screen zoom lens with no auto focus, no shutter-lad, no modes, flash, dials, and settings. It is supposed to make “shooting ten times easier than what even the best digital cameras can do.”

Take the picture of a whole group and decide who to focus later on depending on the person you are tagging or describing.


I also witnessed the demonstration of the 10 Best Mobile Apps. The winner was MAGISTO that I already installed in my iPad 2.  It automatically turns plain videos to beautifully edited and produced Movies. Just create videos, submit them to MAGISTO and the app will take care of editing and producing it.


Walking around just to satisfy my curiosity at CES, I could see that the show and exhibit was not just about laptops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones. It was and is about technologies that affect our daily lives.

In the Go Electric Drive Tech Zone, electric cars were clearly displayed. I entered the raffle to win one of them but have not gotten a notice yet. Solar power devices were also on display.

The Safe Driver Tech Zone had products that promote new technologies to ensure safer driving while the Sustainable Planet Tech Zone featured innovators promoting products that lessen energy consumption and a clean and green environment.

The Sports and Fitness Tech Zone had apps products that dealt with health and fitness – eating right, losing weight, and monitoring/measuring to prevent disease.  Substantial efforts were made to produce products that would shrink healthcare costs.

The Higher ED Tech Zone featured apps, games, and devices that enhance the education of children and adults.

There were other zones and thousands of exhibitors but because of time and human limitations, I could not visit them all.

But for those that I visited and explored, I could not help but conclude the existence and display of mind-boggling technologies with the highest level of innovation.

In my Philosophy class I learned an Scholastic dictum, which said, “There is nothing in the intellect that is not first in the senses.” Knowledge is in the intellect. But it always passes through any or all of the senses.

The interconnectivity and interfacing of all digital devices such as desktops, laptops, notebooks, ultrabooks, tablets, eBook readers, smartphones, digital TVs, digital game players, digital music/audio/video players plus apps make all of them interchangeable multimedia gadgets in a wireless or wired networked environment.

The trend is to fully satisfy the intellect and the senses. Be it searching for knowledge and wisdom; fun and entertainment; better communications; and peace, tranquility, and security, the capabilities of these devices could now converge digitally whether online or offline globally or locally.

That is why we will soon see multimedia devices wherein to read, write, compute, sketch, design, watch, listen, and play individually, independently and interactively, you can either TYPE it, MOUSE it, TOUCH it, SAY it, and amazingly, GESTURE, SIGNAL or even EYE (eye moves the screen) it!

In conclusion, I was indeed witness to some “Miracles” in the Sin City.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

“Miracles” In the Sin City (Part III)

Gary Shapiro, Chairman of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) aptly described it “the glorious apex of innovation.”

Yes, the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) indeed, “is more than a business event. It is source for inspiration, hope, optimism that innovation will improve the human condition,” Shapiro continued.

Seated at the front row as a credentialed member of the Press, I was lucky to watch and listen to the head of the association who has led, year after year, the effective and efficient management of a show that became “the cause of innovation”.

It is a cause closely linked to the health and growth of the global economy that has been pummeled by crisis after crisis, both natural and manmade.

It is innovation that promoted and accelerated the cause of democracy in many countries such as those in the Middle East and Africa where dictators reigned for decades. It is innovation that saved lives in times of natural disasters such as the tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons and the like.

Innovation creates jobs, adds earnings, informs and educates people, entertains and makes them healthier and allows them to enjoy the conveniences brought about by new electronic products.

At the show, I met a lot of bloggers, electronics engineers, and IT Professionals; buyers and resellers; software, Apps and content developers; and of course, small and big companies unveiling and exhibiting their new gadgets, mobile apps and other inventions.

The International CES has always been a showcase of Android-based and Windows-based products and technologies as supported by Intel, Qualcomm, NVDIA; Manufacturers and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Fugitsu and Nokia; networks such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile for the United States, and those of other countries.

Apple will have its MACWORLD/IWORLD in San Francisco next week. I am attending it also as a credentialed member of the Press. I intend to write about the products to be launched and exhibited there.

Smartphones and Tablets continue to be the dominant interests of the consumers.  I noticed that the new smartphones were somehow designed and engineered to competitively replicate the design, functionality and utility of the MAC iPhones, the latest being the iPhone 4s.  

The new smartphones exhibited at the CES were actually quite as attractive, useful and as ‘cool’ as evaluated by some geeks. Examples: Motorola’s Droid Razr-Maxx; Windows Phone HTC Radar; Windows Phone Nokia’s Lumia 800; Lenovo’s Android phone; Samsung’s Galaxy; Casio’s GZ One Ravine; and Casio’s Go Commando.  Windows 8 phones Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC versions were announced but would not be available until next month.

The above-mentioned smartphones proved to have sleeker designs, to be more durable, 3D capable and for some, capable of operating even underwater.

I have an iPhone and an Android phone. I do not have a Windows phone yet. I am waiting for the Windows 8 model.

The Tablets displayed had a likewise similar goal – to compete against the very popular iPad.  I visited the booths displaying the different tablets manufactured by different companies.

As to design, none of them could compete with the iPad. But, as to functionality, there are some things in the new Tablets that trump the iPad.

Last year as in previous years, I went around the booths exhibiting smartphones and Tablets including Google’s Android, asking the question, “does your device have an offline search engine a la Google Desktop or the Windows search function?”

The reason why this issue is important to me is because of my interest in the creation of electronic libraries. When my company was licensed to manufacture and exclusively distribute in the Philippines Franklin’s eBookMan that later became Amazon’s Kindle, we also got involved in creating contents which we termed “Library in Your Pocket”. One important feature was not just to store eBooks and/or eLibraries including audio and video files in large volumes in pocketable or portable devices but, more importantly, to be able to search and retrieve speedily any of the contents offline.  It is your personal or professional private and secure library accessible and available only to you and in your device without having to go to the Internet or the Cloud.  

The answer in previous years was a resounding NO. Even Google’s Android did not have the feature. Neither did the Windows Mobile phones. In a meeting that included MAC experts, enthusiasts and “geniuses”, the latter’s answer to the same question was NO. I was not really surprised because I use and could not leave home without my iPad. I was just wondering if they knew of any application that could do it. Still negative.

This year, it is different.  The Windows 7 and, of course, the Windows 8 Tablets tell me a great story. The powerful Windows 7/8 embedded in Windows Tablets would allow the downloading of ALL Windows applications so useful to the Enterprise, the Professional and to every Tom, Ben, Juan and Maria. Obviously, this includes the Google Desktop offline search engine added to built-in Windows offline search function and Bing.

Ironically, Google’s Android Tablet still does not allow the downloading of the Google Desktop search engine.

Another functionality of the Windows 7/8 Tablets which trumps the iPad is the expansion of memory size by connecting USB and SD cards as well as external hard drives.  Windows is able to index all of them and, therefore, allows the user to search whatever contents he stored for retrieval.

Do you know what this means? When we convert text files or documents into the eBook format, we are able to put about 1000 pages per megabyte (MB) or 1 million pages per gigabyte (GB).  Suppose we have 1 terabyte (TB) or more storage/memory capacity? Compute!

We can virtually install the entire National Library of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines Library, San Beda’s and all those of other universities combined given the expanded memory size in a Windows Tablet. Access and search any of them anywhere, anytime! Isn’t that a little “miracle”?

At the show were devices capable of interconnecting and interfacing that affect all facets of life. I will describe them in my next article.

Because all these devices are digital, their contents, be they documents, voice/audio, video and other formats are now made accessible to you anywhere, anytime, openly, privately, securely, online or offline.

As I described in my previous column, if you want to install contents or institute changes to such contents, you can either TYPE it, MOUSE it, TOUCH it, SAY it, and get this, GESTURE or SIGNAL it.

How? You have to wait for my next article or, like any other Digital Native or Immigrant, just Google or Bing it! J

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

“Miracles” In The Sin City (Part II)

The last time I was in Las Vegas was six months ago when the Maynigo-Gal-lang clan had a family reunion.  Fr. Victor Arenas Maynigo, a first cousin Catholic priest of 42 years led the festivities symbolizing that the city was not necessarily a site just for the “sinner”. The presence of babies, children, and the elderly still looking young was a reminder of a miracle usually taken for granted – the “Miracle of Life”.

Although brought about by finite human beings in their not so “creative” ways, this miracle continues to be attributed and credited to some Infinite and Supreme Being by many.  But DNA technology has scientifically shown the sources, lineage and cause for being of the unique individual. At least we can claim to be principal material witnesses if not Principals by Direct Participation.

Now I am here again in Las Vegas attending,  as I have for several years, the International Consumer Electronics Show.  As I described in a previous column, I have been a living witness to many of the “miracles” in these modern times. They come in the form of new inventions, products and technologies that were all products of one’s imagination, then innovation, and finally, creation.

CES is indeed a show FOR the consumer, OF the consumer and BY the consumer. The digitization or “electronification” of many aspects of the life of the consumer always becomes the focus of the show.

New products are launched to satisfy the senses of the consumer.

Sound technologies come in the form of incredibly nice-sounding music players, speakers and earphones.  Listening to music or your voice played in a special device that includes smartphones or other players; projected on a special speaker delivered by wire or wireless; or heard from another special earphone/ear buds; and mixed by a special software application is just unbelievable.

Of course, the text to speech technologies are found in all e-readers and now great improvements in voice recognition applications have equally penetrated the communications, sensor, mobile and multi-media devices.  Just say it and the device will do it.

Vision technologies are even more pronounced. The advances in television, video, and camera (still and motion) technologies engineered and designed to portray beauty or otherwise, in color and/or pixel-measured formats in rapid or slow motion are all on display in the show.  “Super”, “Ultimate” and “Smart”, OLED, Flat and Thin/Light TV sets, screens and monitors with exceptional multi-media, gaming and communications capabilities in HD or 3D formats “miraculously” abound.

Touch has become a sense to reckon with. Using a mouse or a keyboard to create contents or to institute changes are no longer enough. One has to use the sense of touch either independently, complimentary or supplementary to accomplish a more
satisfying content development or to be just plain “contented”.

Now, with these new “miracles” and counting, when the consumer wants something done, he can type it, mouse it, touch it, say it, and even in some cases, gesture or signal it.  As my barber said in Taglish, “Pag ganyan ang situation, ang consumer mahirap maconsumi.” (In situations like that, it would be hard for the consumer to be frustrated.)

How would the consumer be driven in 2012?

As described by Mr. Shawn Dubravac in his “2012 CES Trends to Watch” presentation, in 2011 we saw a battle of the Portable versus the Pocketable; The Intelligence of Things; “Sensor’ization of Consumer Tech and the transition from Amplification to ‘App’lification.

For 2012, Dubravac says that the “Hottest” trends based on the new products unveiled, some of which I already saw, are: Wireless & Wireless Devices (60%); Lifestyle Electronics (36%); Internet-based Multimedia Services (31%); Connected Home (about 30%); Computer Hardware & Software (29%); Entertainment/Content (28%); Emerging Technology (27.5%); Electronic Gaming  (27%); Video (27%).

The CES Buyers say that the “Hot” ones at the 2012 CES are: Apps (for mobile devices), 90%; Tablets, 90%; Devices for streamed content, 82%; Internet-enabled TVs, 81%; Devices designed to enable sharing content, 74%; Cloud computing, 73%; Smart appliances, 71%; NFC, 69%; Home automation, 68%; Personal cloud, 66%; Electrical vehicles, 62%; Programs designed to personalize content, 61%; Health related technologies, 60%; 3DTV, 57%; eReaders, 45%;  Netbooks, 38%.

It would be the year of Superphones with the Windows Phone, quad-core and 4G (LTE) championed by NVDIA, Qualcomm, Samsung and HTC. The next BIG drive in computing according to Dubravac is interconnectivity. He says, “As technology becomes more omnipresent and ubiquitous, the evolutionary pressures push yesterday’s innovation to the background – providing room for an increasingly natural interaction.” This makes 2012 as also the Year of the Interface.

 This is not only an industry and show OF and FOR the consumer; it is also BY the consumer. That’s why “Device use-case scenarios are increasingly defined by the end-user and OEMs are supporting this by delivering increasingly customizable hardware and services.”

Mostly the consumers themselves have developed software applications and contents.

The consumers will give awards to exceptional and innovative products both in gadgets or devices and applications as judged. I will most likely join and participate in many of the events not just in the judging but in the partying as well.:)

There are new exceptionally good products for the kids, for the Mommy, for the home, for the family, for road, for the office, for the school including Higher Ed Tech, and many others.  Digital Health and Fitness is given greater prominence this year. Going green is also being pushed.

I will be more specific on these products in my next article. I still have to see many of them in the remaining days.

This is one show where the best of mankind has to offer are displayed.  This is where war is fierce and expensive but conducted in peace and ends in cooperation, interconnectivity, and interface. This is where intellectual and spiritual that are seemingly infinite and creative capabilities are translated and demonstrated in material and finite, sensuous but sensible way..

This is why I attend it every year! This is where I witness “miracles” happen!

Friday, January 6, 2012


Citizens’ Caucus - Conservatism, Cash, Christian Values, Combat;
Consumers Confer – Creativity Conquers


The formal process of choosing a Republican alternative to President Obama started last night. The citizens of the State of Iowa caucused to select among Romney, Santorum, Paul, Gingrich, Perry, and Bachman. Huntsman was also a candidate but ignored the process and the State.

Fully aware of the make-up of the voters, each of the candidates projected himself or herself as a staunch conservative.

As in any election, Issues, Organization, and Cash played very significant roles. 

Romney campaigned on his record as an experienced manager in the private as well as in the public sector (as Massachusetts Governor). Those who were concerned about the economy and the issue of electability chose him over the others. He also had the organization and the cash. According to reports, he spent $156 per vote.

The Evangelicals preferred Santorum, who was a former Pennsylvania Senator. He ran on Christian (Roman Catholic) values and relied on the organization of the religious organizations supporting him. He visited and campaigned in all the 99 counties of Iowa. He spent only $21 per vote.

Ron Paul, no doubt, had conservative credentials, but his foreign policy proposals such as non-interventionism, anti-combat warfare, and withdrawal of all American troops from foreign lands made the same constituency uneasy. He also disagrees with the idea of threatening to bomb Iran. He has very strong support from the young and the military. He spent $104 per vote.

Gingrich ran on his record as a former Speaker of the House who led Republican forces to follow the “Contract with America” agenda. His brilliant showing as a debater initially propelled him to frontrunner status in Iowa. But a barrage of negative ads relating to his past affected his standing.  He spent $92 per vote.

Perry virtually put most of his eggs in Iowa’s basket. Spending $480 per vote, he outspent all the others combined. He could not recover from his devastating showing in the debates and in some interviews.

Bachmann was born and raised in Iowa. She was hoping to galvanize her relatives, classmates, neighbors and town mates.  They were not enough. She spent only $4 per vote.

In the ultimate analysis, the caucus of the conservatives was a battle between and among Cash (Economy), Christian Values (Religion), Combat Warfare (Non-Interventionist Policy).

Economy represented by Romney won over Religion personified by Santorum but only by 8 votes. The non-interventionist Paul managed a close third place finish.


By the time you read this column, I will probably be in Las Vegas attending the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2012.

My CES Planner says that in my next article I should be able to report on the State of the Consumer Electronics Industry both nationally and globally.  I will attend the unveiling of new and the latest products. So expect a description of some that I consider amazing, and which will affect our daily lives.

Many of the technology companies such as Google, LG Electronics, Samsung, Panasonic, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Intel, Microsoft and others have scheduled separate press conferences to launch their latest creations.  I intend to write about the ones that I feel would be of interest to consumers in general.

Apple Computers will not be represented formally but accessories and apps for Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods will be on display.  Of course, many of the attendees like me will be holding iPhones and iPads.

Last year, I attended and participated in two events, which I found very interesting: the “Last Gadget Standing” and the “Mobile Apps Showdown”.  I intend to do so again.

This year, the 10 finalists of the “Last Gadget Standing” are:
1.     Lytro – described as a simple box-like camera that takes the photo first and then let’s you bring the photo into focus.
2.     Playstation Vita – according to the Judges, its sleek design puts it at the current pinnacle of portable gaming systems. The system’s graphics is noted for its speed so that they make the iPad look tortoise like.
3.     Autom Robot – a weight loss robot that engages you in a dialog about your goals.
4.     Cotton Candy – an Android on a stick that has everything an Android tablet has at its core. It is supposed to be as light as cotton candy.
5.     WIMM One Dev Preview – looks like a wristwatch but can be transformed into a Twitter watch, stocks, weather, and phone.
6.     Origami -  a new high tech baby stroller which has an electronic dashboard replete with a pedometer, iPod holder, and recharges itself while it’s in motion.
7.     Swivi – a simple iPhone dock that can swivel to track your movements as you talk and walk about.
8.     Basis – body monitoring device that not only measures your exercise but measures everything from body temperature to sweat.

The other 2 finalists will be chosen and announced at the start of the Show.

The 10 finalists for “Mobile Apps Showdown” are:
1.     SecuraFone – a multi-purpose smartphone app that functions as a
personal safety solution. It helps prevent distracted driving.
            2.    Macaw Mobile App – turns your smartphone into a mobile health
            3     CIA: Operation Ajax – brings the comic to the next level.
            4.     Aurasma – blends the physical and virtual worlds together.
            5.    AppGear – an innovative line of apps that seamlessly interact with cool,
                   collectible toys, shifting digital gaming into your reality.
            6.     SkyQ – an easy to use astronomy app that locates and identifies virtually
                    any celestial object visible in the sky.           
            7.     Viper Smart Start – an app that allows users to start, stop, lock, unlock,
                    pop the trunk plus more.
            8.     Cinefy – mobile video editing platform for the iPhone where users create
                    and share videos mixed with high quality special effects.           
            9.     Magisto – app that takes raw videos and turns it into a beautifully edited
                    and produced clip.
            10.   RoadBike – app that makes your iPhone the bike monitor of your  

All of the above plus the 2 still unknown gadgets will be demonstrated during the scheduled events. The last gadget standing and the best mobile app will be voted upon by the audience, which would include me.

It will be a busy week in Las Vegas. I am narrowing down the list of booths to visit and the CEOs to interview. I expect to receive some samples to evaluate.

There are also social events. One big night is sponsored by Lenovo and Microsoft; another night by Intel, then by Qualcomm. The closing party at the Venetian Hotel should be a big one. I also plan to attend the International Academy Web Television Awards.

Indeed, the things we have to do for Consumerism and Journalism. As my barber said, “it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it”. :)