Internet Story: 28 November 1999
This year, like no other year before it, Comdex has been almost totally dedicated to E-Commerce in one way or another. It was inevitable that somebody at Ziff would come up with ".COMdex" to represent the desirability, especially in the USA, of having a ".COM" domain name.
There were a special "e-commerce" sections in the LVCC and SECC where vendors displayed all manner of products ranging from components of e-commerce systems (e.g. PayLinx) to whole end-to-end systems (e.g. WebOrder).
Also, very big this year, was Linux. Not only did Linus Torvalds give a keynote speech this year but there was a whole section of the Hilton given over to the Linux Business Expo. Linus didn't do much to enlighten us further about his new Crusoe project at Transmeta, Inc. Though if you take a peep at the source code comments on Transmeta's website you can see a glimpse of what's to come on 19 Jan 2000 - "Crusoe will be cool hardware and software for mobile applications." Oh, yes, before I forget... there was a large display of some strange legacy software from His Billiness - Windows 2000 i think it was called. No doubt we'll see a little of this next year :-)
The Comdex hot spots that interested me most were the biometrics and security pavilions. It looks pretty much like biometrics have come of age. There were several companies (e.g. Keyware Technologies, BioNetrix) demonstrating biometric authentication software that will allow the use of several different biometric devices, thus allowing the possibility of multiple parameters to be measured and/or allowing the use of whatever devices are available locally. Popular biometric devices demonstrated were, fingerprint scanners, iris scanners, voice recognition, handwriting recognition (from the dynamics of writing rather than just the shape of the signature), and face recognition.
Mobile Internet Devices were huge this year. It is predicted that within a few years there will be more non-PC devices connected to the Internet than PC devices. A large player in this market will be the next generation of mobile phones. There were several on display at Comdex. Some will be out real soon, some by the end of next year. Nokia had their 7110 WAP phone on display and Ericsson had a demo of one of their WAP phones. There was also a strong showing of Bluetooth technology (local wireless network) from a variety of vendors.
MPEG rules the waves! There were more MPEG3 players than you can shake a stick at. First made popular by the Diamond Rio (see the very first Internet Today:30Nov1999) these little device are now being made by everyone. You can even buy an "empeg car" - a car stereo system that runs Linux! The "empeg car" stores up to 600 hours of music, that's around 10,000 tracks, and is voice controlled with some stunning visuals that react to the music. Better still, this is an English company based in Cambridge!
Main gripe about the show: where on earth did they hide the International Pavilion this year? It was mentioned several times; the staff at the registration building had it on their crib sheets - absolutely no one knew where it was located! The web site was useless too.
Finally, from the I'm_embarrassed_to_be_English Department comes the, erm, not so Spice Girls singing about National Semiconductors You can all start pewking now! See top picture.
Andrew Stringer, © Pendle.Net Ltd, 1999