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issue: February 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

Content Crazy

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Tim Somheil, Editor

We want content. We need content. The makers of content delivery technology are intent on giving it to us everywhere.

Tim Somheil, Editor

The world has gone content-crazy. Somehow, that’s still a surprise, even to the industries that create devices to bring users this content and, in fact, spur the need for such content.
The preview days, open only to news media, prior to the official opening of the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas were bigger than many of the full-size trade shows I attend. Thousands of members of the global media—radio and television, Web sites and bloggers, newspaper and magazines—crowded inside the Sands Expo Center and jostled into one standing-room-only press conference after another.
You see, there is huge interest around the world to see media content about the newest technology to bring us media content.
Consumer electronics that have made content easily accessible outside traditional venues, and made it easily portable, get the credit or the blame for the omnipresence of content. The CE industry itself still seems amazed at the number of portable devices in use today. The best example, of course, is the iPod. A secondary result of its success is that its docking capability gave rise to a huge accessories industry in and of itself—and made consumers familiar with the concept of carrying their personal inventory of content with them, to use en route and dock at their destination.
The destination may now be the car, with satellite radios, navigation devices, iPods, and other video devices, often converging, often capable of being docked into the car entertainment system

Video on the Dashboard

When I mention video in the car I am not talking about a fold-down DVD player in the ceiling of the minivan so the kids can watch SpongeBob in the backseat. These are systems that put video on the dashboard. At CES, in-car video was marketed as the new cool auto tool. The next must-have for the well-equipped ride. Hey, if you’re plugging your video iPod into the car entertainment system, then why shouldn’t the entertainment system play the video?
I’ll leave it to others to debate the wisdom of offering this capability. It’s coming, like it or not.

The Technology to Delivery Content

CES describes its scope as including the technology and the content, and everything in between. Every year it is more difficult to figure out what is not included in that vast arena of products. Still, I was a little surprised to see the traditional home appliance world reaching into CE. That’s what Whirlpool did when it launched its CentralPark™ connector at CES. This concept product intends to make the most of the kitchen’s inherent efficiency by providing an electronics plug-and-play platform right there on the home’s most-touched appliance, the refrigerator.
David Swift, president of Whirlpool North America, said the port serves as a logical link between CE devices and traditional home appliances. The compelling rationale for the technology is to help free up countertop clutter—MP3 players, digital picture frames, cell phones, satellite radios, DVD systems, and other CE devices now can have a convenient home in the kitchen, at eye level, and be charged even as they deliver their content to the homeowner.
It actually makes sense to use an existing appliance, in the busiest room of the home, to help organize some of the 27+ electronics devices scattered about the average U.S. household. And, when the hub is launched in late 2007, Whirlpool fridges may hold the title for being the heaviest—even the coolest—iPod dock yet.


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