Like every year, it seems like the entire tech world has decamped and headed to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off tomorrow. All Things Considered's Audie Cornish spoke to NPR's Steve Henn, who gave her a quick rundown of what we're expecting. Here are some highlights:
-- The big pre-CES story has been that Microsoft will no longer participate in the event after this year. That means two of the biggest technology firms in the world — Microsoft and Apple — have pulled out.
Steve said Microsoft believes it can get more attention for itself by announcing new products outside the show, like Apple has done.
So what does it mean for CES?
Steve told Audie that it still leaves thousands of other firms in Las Vegas and he believes that, in the end, those small companies are the more interesting ones.
-- Steve reports that this year everyone wants "control of your living room." Meaning that companies like Apple and Google want you to stream content from the Internet.
The device manufacturers are getting in on the action, said Steve. Lenovo is introducing its first TV that runs using Google's operating system and has built-in webcams.
But here's the kicker: The TV will know who you are using facial recognition.
As, Audie put it, "now my TV will be watching me?" Steve reports that the reason is so the TV can really enforce parental controls but Steve says another reason your TV might want to know who is sitting in front of it is so it can show you finely targetted advertisements.
USA Today has more on the television set, which also responds to voice commands.
-- One other thing that seems to be making headlines across the web is the introduction of ultrabooks, which Arstechnica describes as "thin, light, MacBook Air-like laptops that Intel hopes will stimulate the PC market."
The BBC reports that Intel vice president Mooly Eden demoed ultrabooks that featured touchscreens and were convertible from a traditional laptop to a tablet. Some future computers, Eden said, will also have sensors that will allow the notebook to be controled by "touch-free gestures or by tilting the machine."
CNet posted this video of Eden's presentation:
We'll post the as-aired interview with Steve a little later tonight.