More than 2,700 companies from across the technology world displayed their products at the show held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The top executives from Microsoft, Verizon, Ford, Audi and the Consumer Electronics Association — among others — gave keynote speeches at surrounding hotel centers throughout the four-day trade show.
One West Michigan company, Fulton Innovation of Ada, a subsidiary of Alticor, powered up a variety of products — including cell phones, kitchen appliances and cereal boxes. They powered an electric car, Tesla, with the latest wireless power technology called eCoupled.
"It's working with inductive coupling, so we have magnetic coils underneath," said Sharon Barclay, a public relations representative for the company.
The eCoupled technology transmits energy through coils — one of which generates a magnetic field at a frequency that will resonate with another coil in any device, such as a phone, that is also equipped with eCoupled technology, according to the company's website.
Dave Baarman, director of technology at Fulton Innovation, said some of the new LCD phones will soon have this wireless power built right into the device.
"This technology has the capability of doing so many other things that we're just raising the tip of the iceberg on," he said. "We're just now proving that wireless power is ... just as good as the power supply."
The company's exhibit space at CES included several popular cereal brand boxes, including Cheerios and Trix — alongside toys and other electrical objects — that lit up when displayed on an eCoupled-powered shelf.
On a larger scale, lighted blue eCoupled rings on a ground-level platform powered 1,500 watts to a red Tesla car — giving just as much power as if it were normally being charged through an electrical outlet.
"Everything you see here is powered without wires," Barclay said. "So we have everything from a car, which is very, very high power — in this case, a Tesla electric vehicle — to very low power where we have a Cheerios box sitting on a shelf that's being powered and essentially lighting up. In the case of the Cheerios box, we have the technology down so small that we're actually printing on the box, so there's no electronics in there."
Baarman said the eCoupled technology for smaller devices already exists and can be found in retail stores, such Target. At home, Baarman said he has the technology hooked up to his power tools, cell phones and cell phone adapters.
Jon Moroney, an industrial designer at Tiger Studio in Zeeland who has worked with Fulton Innovation, said the West Michigan company fares well in the international technology world.
"Fulton Innovation has a unique technology — something that no one else has to offer," he said. "Fulton, in my opinion, stood out (at CES) and did very well."
Moroney, who is also an assistant professor of industrial design at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, said he attended CES to be "inspired."
"This is emerging technology that people will eventually see in new products in three to five years," he said. "I look for not the things that are going to be on the shelves tomorrow, but for the building blocks that still need to be designed in three to five years."
One product that Moroney said he found to be inspirational was Cyberdyne's HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb). When wired up to the robotic-type suit, the device reacts to brain-wave activity and will move what you "think" it to move, Moroney said. The product was designed for the elderly population; or those who have limited walking ability, including paraplegics.
"It helps paralyzed people walk," Moroney said. "What can be better than that?"
One device that failed its anticipated big reveal at CES was Verizon's iPhone. Instead, the company unveiled a range of 4G LTE devices — including smart phones, tablets and laptops.
This year's CES attracted more than 140,000 people from around the world — exceeding pre-show estimates of about 120,000 people, according to a Jan. 10 report in PC World. According to the report, this year's attendance numbers mirrored the 2008 show's 141,150 people — the highest in the last three years.
Final numbers for the 2011 show are expected to be released in May.
"I thought it was really great and inspirational," said Christy Ennis-Kloote, who works in graphic design and user interface at Tiger Studio. "It was definitely nice to see things new and up close and in person."
Ennis-Kloote said this year was the first time she attended CES.
"We're looking for new products, technology, interface, graphics and implementation of how people are actually getting things to market," she said. "... I had heard that 3-D was going to be big, so I was expecting that, but I wasn't expecting so many people competing on the tablet market. It was really kind of interesting to see quite a few more competitors now trying to grab that market."
Ennis-Kloote said one product that impressed her was Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, with options that can be customized for each user.
"That was really quite progressive in the types of graphics they were showing, so that was pretty amazing," she said.
Now back in West Michigan, Ennis-Kloote said she received "a lot of information that I believe our clients would appreciate us doing with them as well." Within the coming week, she and Moroney will take their inspirations from CES and present them to their co-workers and clients.
"I hope to inspire my students with information about emerging technologies unveiled at the show," Moroney said. "In some cases, the students may be able to incorporate those technologies into their designs to help them function in a way that was not possible before."