As it is every year, the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show is all about trends. One of this year's recurring themes is environmentally-friendly technology.
For example, Fujitsu has a laptop computer on display that uses corn plastic as part of its housing. According to company officials, after disassembly, the computer's plastic components could break down in a matter of months rather than years. The machine is available overseas, but to meet U.S. safety requirements, it would need to be more flame retardant. That would require additional petroleum-based plastic mixed with the bio-plastic.
Several electronics recycling companies are at CES this year. Some refurbish old phones and donate them to other organizations. For example, the Cell Phones for Soldiers project managers take old phones, repair them and send them overseas to military bases, allowing soldiers to contact loved ones.
Another big trend this year is home automation -- connecting all the major electronics in a home to a network that the homeowner controls using a simple interface. While the concept of home automation isn't new, in practice it's been limited to customers who have very deep pockets. This year, several companies claim that new home automation systems will be much more affordable and well within the average person's budget.
For those of us who are tired of dealing with the dozens of cables you need to connect all of the components in a home theater system, relief may soon be around the corner. Nearly every major home theater brand is demonstrating wireless home theater systems. In most of these systems, a set-top box containing a transmitter sends signals to a receiver connected to a television -- some manufacturers even offer televisions with a built-in receiver.
Next, well see how fashion, design and electronics are meeting in a big way for 2008.