The only good expo is a future expo
U P TO 130,000 square-peg conventioneers from all four corners of the globe descended on Las Vegas last week for the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show, many getting so "wowed" by cutting-edge gadgets they had to breathe into a paper bag to avoid hyperventilation.
While this is a perfectly good use for a paper bag, it's also the biggest waste of Las Vegas -- ever. Lost in a sea of sounds, bright neon lights and the cast of Blue Man Group, many disoriented attendees likely overdosed on Red Bull, tore off their clothes and ran around the Strip thinking they were stuck in the movie "Tron."
Sadly, geeks are as out-of-place in Sin City as I would be in the Secret Garden, and I'm talking about the one in the book, not the one Siegfried & Roy have at the Mirage.
Of course, my cynicism may be fueled by jealousy, since I didn't get to go. I never get stuff.
I've only got one Red Bull left in the fridge, and I have to save that in case the elevator craps out in my condo again and I have to take the stairs.
I've got a Blue Man where I work, but he's Papa Smurf and he's only three inches tall. So as you can see, your average CES geek lives the life of a Bond villain compared to me. That is, most of the time.
Fortunately, my buddy with the time machine also feels inadequate this time of year, and he asked me to join him on another trip to the 2018 Consumer Electronic Show. Present-day geeks might as well be ooing and ahhing over VCRs and pocket calculators compared to what we saw some 12 years into the future. Here's some highlights:
Turns out the early 21st century was the Model T era for robotic vacuums, while 2018 brings us the Cadillac of self-aware carpet cleaners. While the first 15 generations of Roombas simply reacted to household filth, the Intuit observes the world around it and stops messy situations before they start.
While the early Roombas bumped your feet randomly while sweeping the room, the Intuit seeks you out and gives you pointed electric shocks and stern warnings to preempt your messy-prone activities. Zap -- "Don't eat on the couch." Zap -- "Take off your shoes." Zap -- "Use a coaster -- what are you, an animal?"
The deluxe version takes an even more macro view of household tidiness. During a dramatization, I heard it tell a couple, "Do you really think you two are ready to have a baby? That week-old grilled cheese sandwich at the foot of the bed says 'no.'"
In 2006 we thought the mountains of gibberish that were put into spam to slip past our e-mail filters ("... antonym in approbation it be poise ...") was just that -- gibberish. Little did we know that a whole new culture, and language, was growing like a fungus between our firewalls.
Tapping this new market, Comcast unveiled a vast library of old movies that it plans to stream into homes, dubbed for fluent Spamglish-speakers. Many conventioneers gathered around a giant plasma TV with lumps in their throats while watching an adapted Tom Cruise classic.
"What's she saying to him?" I whispered to a girl who vaguely remembered my Old English tongue.
"She's saying, 'You had me at Barbados mustache. You had me at Barbados mustache.'"
It took a minute, but I got the drift.