HANNOVER, GermanyAs someone who has had the opportunity to visit CeBIT a number of times in the past 10 years, it occurred to me that it might be interesting for those who have not, to also cover some of the things about this venue and the show that perhaps do not make the news.
First of all, Hannover is a rather unusual place for a high tech show, but they conduct about 22 shows a year at the Messe (fairgrounds). The Messe has 27 buildings, and during CeBIT there are also at least four to five additional temporary trailers on top of that. The town is small compared to a venue like Las Vegas, and its personality is more reflected in what you can find in Old Town rather than the high tech image of CeBIT. But technology must be rubbing off, as indicated in the architecture in this building which was located right next to the Hannover Town Hall and across the street from my hotel. They should at least put a window in the floor so the occupants could watch the traffic stream by as they work.
CeBIT is mostly a showcase for things that are ready to sell, versus a show like CES where companies have been known to "try out" product ideas before they are ready to ramp to production. One clear sign that USB (Universal Serial Bus) has achieved full maturity as a technology is indicated by a booth that was dedicated entirely to USB Gadgets.
The typical mouse and keyboard devices were side-by-side with USB powered cup warmers, USB razors, and even USB massage aidsall covered with glitter and packaged in the familiar indestructible plastic we find wrapped around everything we buy these days.
I commented in my previous article about companies focused on high quality audio, but here is one example of a product that takes audio in an entirely different direction. I call this one "cardboard audio" because the trick here is to take the audio output of a personal audio device like an MP3 player, and by converting the audio to vibrations, turn surfaces like cardboard boxes into speakers.
The audio that is generated is loud enough to be shared, as is the goal, but the audio quality now becomes a function of the characteristics of the surface that is used to create the speakers. Boxes, drinking glasses, and tables were all used in this demo, and they all had one thing in common: poor but audible audio.