Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

CES11: What a Woman Saw

Men are from Mars, and at CES11 they saw 70" TV sets, 3-D Blu-Ray players, and perhaps the popular Blackberry tablet. But I for me the show was all about smart design and the emerging "Internet of things."

For example, here are some absolutely beautiful iPhone cases that come from a small Italian company named Puro, at the show for the first time and hoping to find a distributor. Puro also showed some fantastic iPad cases. I sure hope you can buy this stuff online soon, because the competitors, mostly made in China, don't come anywhere near the level of beauty Puro designs demonstrate as possible for even an iPhone case. Before I met Puro, I worshipped Apple's own designs; now, not so much.

And then there was the new generation of the Roomba, the robotic vacuum cleaner. This little guy is like a companion for your pet, although the first version, which I own, was hard to take apart and regularly succumbed to the dog hair shed by my golden retrievers. The booth attendants told me this version is much improved, and there's even a pet series now. There's also a floorwashing cousin to the Roomba called the Scooba, which could be seen scurrying around the toilet in the booth.

And then there was the LG Smart Refrigerator with Thinq, connected to the LG Smart Washer and Dryer, the Smart Oven and to a wireless hotspot. I could control either or both of them with my iPhone if I only owned them.

I calculated that I walked about three miles on Friday through the cavernous halls of the show, and I only saw part of it. I got drawn into the NBC Universal booth, where Chris Matthews was live broadcasting Hardball while the Top Chef All Stars were demonstrating their skill with knives. The size of the NBC booth, signaling the investment of old-line media in consumer electronics, was instructive.

I got waylaid at the American Express Open booth, where Guy Kawasaki was giving a pitch about how to pitch:-) Once again, not what you would expect at a show dedicated to consumer electronics, but I am told this year's show was the largest ever, with many unlikely exhibitors.

Last, but not least, I fell in love with one gadget whose design appeared to appeal to both sexes; the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It was so crowded at the part of the Samsung booth showcasing this popular new device (small enough to fit in a woman's purse) that I had to wait in line to play with it.

All in all, CES11 was worth it even for someone from Venus. And here's why: there's a microprocessor in absolutely everything these days, and slowly all objects are beginning to communicate with each other. I'll ignore the automakers at CES, because the boys covered them pretty thoroughly, but I will say the BMW sitting out on the plaza caught my eye. It's at least as "smart" as I am, and my next car/oven/phone will be even smarter.