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Social TV at CES

Social TV at CES
iPhone courtesy of Apple; iStockPhoto

The gadget fest showcases thinner, lighter TVs that you can talk to and tweet on.

The voice and gesture controls seen in such films as Minority Report and 2001: A Space Odyssey are becoming reality. These futuristic capabilities are on display at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, running through Jan. 13 in Las Vegas.

"Gestural control is more prevalent than ever before; voice control will be more prevalent than ever before," says Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research for the Consumer Electronics Association, which hosts the annual gadget fest.

Intel announced it was partnering with Nuance to bring speech recognition like that found on the Apple iPhone 4S to its ultrabook laptop design standard, while TV makers introduced voice recognition and Wii-style motion-control remotes.

The consumer electronics industry is redefining television in other ways:

♦ Internet-connected TVs are becoming the norm. "In 2010, 10 to 12 percent were connected; in 2011 about one-third of TVs were connected," says DuBravac. "By 2012, half of televisions being sold will be connected."

♦ New TV models will include apps that allow viewers to have conversations on Twitter, Facebook or Skype while watching a show.

♦ Cloud-based services aim to change the way consumers own content. The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem consortium will be promoting its UltraViolet, effectively a digital locker that allows consumers to collect and own content that can be accessed any time on any supported device.

♦ The 3D industry is developing autostereo, or glasses-free, 3D displays.

♦ Better OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays are coming. LG unveiled a 55-inch OLED TV just 5mm thick and weighing 16.5 pounds. Samsung showed off an OLED TV of similar size. Sony trumped both companies with its 55-inch crystal LED prototype, which it claims is far superior to LCD technology.

♦ Bezel-less and thin-bezel (the frame around the screen) TVs are becoming more prevalent. "Imagine multiple televisions being put together," says DuBravac. "We are probably only a few years out before consumers are able to create a wall of displays. They can create their own ESPN zone in their basement or a beach scene across an entire wall of televisions."

As CES opened, DuBravac led a presentation on the state of the consumer electronics industry, with sales figures that project global gadget sales growing in 2012 to $1.03 trillion from their 2009 recession low of $824 billion.

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CES TREND: Vegas Offers High Stakes for Higher Resolution Displays

From mobile devices to home theater projectors, higher resolution displays are invading the Las Vegas Convention Center at the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

Sony will be showing a home theater projector that boasts 4K (4,000 pixels) resolution -- more than four times that of today's "full HD" (1080p) HDTVs and the highest resolution used for digital cinema projection. Sony has a 4K strategy at both the consumer and professional sides of its business. Its anticipated F65 4K digital cinematography camera -- there will be one at Sony's CES booth -- is set to ship this month for feature and TV production.

Sony also demoed a glasses-free 3D TV with 4K resolution that wooed the crowd with its clarity and depth of color.

LG will push high resolution too and has announced that it will unveil an 84-inch "Ultra Definition" 3D Smart TV that is four times the resolution of HDTV panels.

Tablets and smartphones are upping their resolution as well. "The default resolution for smartphones in 2012 will be 720p [HD]," says Roy Taylor of MasterImage 3D, which will be previewing HD and glasses-free 3D displays for tablets and smartphones.

This will include a 720p, 4.3-inch smartphone display, a 720p display for a 7-inch screen on a tablet, and a 1080p screen for a 10-inch tablet.

While MasterImage doesn't manufacturer smartphones and tablets, it supplies it glasses-free 3D display technology to the makers of these mobile devices. Taylor tells The Hollywood Reporter that the company has deals in place to supply its technology for roughly 40 smartphones and tablets that are expected to be on the market before the end of 2012.

iStockPhoto