Is There a Phone Fax in Your Future?
IN the consumer electronics future, you will be able to: Receive fax transmissions in your cars.
Control your washer/dryer, furnace, coffeemaker, lights, doors, TV, and stereo from a single control panel.
See multiple, still-color images of the person you are talking to on the telephone.
Work in an integrated, home-office environment in which fax, copier, telephone, TV, and still/moving video cameras all communicate with one another at the touch of a button.
Products that serve these functions were among the thousands of items at this year's Winter International Consumer Electronics show here.
Ninety thousand manufacturers, retailers, exhibitors, buyers, and journalists from 70 countries converged for four days to scour 17 football fields worth of exhibits.
``You can't afford to miss this [show] in this business,'' says Mike Ferrante, a distributor from Syracuse, N.Y., who is trying to keep up on innovations in audio/video accessories. Projected growth in total sales for consumer electronics will be up 5 percent from 1988's $30 billion total.
``The whole industry is at the end of a period of consolidation and ready for the next big spurt,'' says Bill Pritchard, a senior manager for Panasonic, which is showing liquid crystal display prototypes, new camcorders, and improved definition large-screen TV models.
One of the most talked-about items is a device called CEBus developed by Texas Instruments and CyberLYNX, a communications software firm based in Boulder, Colo. Using existing house wiring, it can connect home entertainment equipment, heating and air conditioning, as well as security and household appliances into one central electronic control.
``Home products links such as these are the coming wave,'' says Cynthia Saraniti, director of communications for Consumer Electronics Group, which oversees the trade show.
Another consumer trend is products that meet the needs of home-based workers, such as fax machines, telephones, copiers, personal computers, and devices that combine them all.
Sharp Industries, for instance, exhibited a prototype ``Home Office of the Future'' that includes all the above plus a still video camera for desk-top publishing.
Other `hot' items at this year's consumer electronics fair:
Sharp Wizard organizer. A folding, pocket computer that encompasses a range of functions from calendar, appointment book, telephone directory, calculator, memo book, clock. With interchangeable cartridges holding memory of 32K, the Wizard also interfaces with printers, personal computers, and cassette recorders.
Canon Zapshot Still Video Camera. A palm-sized camera that holds 2-inch, reusable floppy discs of up to 50 pictures each. Images can be viewed, filed, and reviewed indefinitely with no deterioration of quality, as well as be printed with the accompanying printer.
Koss JCK/3000 headphone. A 10-ounce wireless headphone that allows user freedom up to 50 feet. This was one of many infra-red, cordless technology innovations. Wireless videocams and boat stereos were other new uses.
Sanyo Color Still Image Videophone. A device that sends a three-inch color image in eight seconds over a standard subscriber line. Subsequent images (up to three) can be sent with no interruption to conversation.