What was unique and visible at CeBIT this year is a dramatic shift in the emphasis on "natural interfaces" as well as an emerging focus on high quality audio, including wireless alternatives
Eye controlled computers, which are attached to existing monitors, combined with very specialized applications software can decipher the data captured by monitoring a subject's eyes. To create the precision necessary, this particular company, Tobii Technology (Stockholm), utilizes multiple types of cameras (2-D as well as infrared) to track pupil and overall eye movement, cracks the data in their own on-board computer module, and then passes this data to application programs running in a PC.
Initially developed to enable PC use by severely handicapped individuals, this application is now also being utilized to measure and evaluate web pages and digital signage and is being used as a sensor in automobiles to detect if people close their eyes while driving.
Touch, multi-touch, and even group touch, but a long way to go in terms of latency, pen/stylus versus finger, and consistent behavior regardless of application. The most impressive example was the wall of touch (above), provided by Asus. The All-In-One PC Desktop form factor seems to have the most consistent implementation, but even in that platform instances of severe latency can be stimulated by making rapid movements on the screen.
Audio is an interesting subject these days. Ever since the introduction of the MP3 audio player, there has been a lot of focus on content protection, compressed versus uncompressed quality, and delivery mechanisms.
This year's version of CeBIT has some companies whose primary emphasis in their products was audio quality. From high-quality speaker systems to wireless audio delivered through speaker/lightbulb combinations to pure wireless headsets, speakers and ear buds, some of the focus in this area has shifted from "good enough" to CD quality.
The victim, if there is one, in this shift is wireless Bluetooth. Don't get me wrong herethere were dozens of companies showing wireless audio solutions using bluetooth, but none of them were demonstrating this solution. As in the past, they were showing their products and relying on the fact that Bluetooth is the only way to implement such a solution.
The new angle in wireless audio is true CD quality, and I saw four different alternatives, all using the 2.4GHz band, which bring their own proprietary solutions to the game.
About the author: Robert Hollingsworth is senior vice president of SMSC, a semiconductor company based in Hauppauge, N.Y.