Las Vegas - As he welcomed the audience to the "glorious apex of innovation" at his opening day keynote, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) president/CEO Gary Shapiro stated what's pretty obvious to anyone walking the aisles at the show - this is a really big show.
He said more than 140,000 attendees will be here during four days to visit more than 3,100 exhibitors and trudge through 1.8-million-plus square feet of exhibit space.
During his remarks to a packed crowd at the Venetian, Shapiro repeated his year-long mantra about the importance of innovation to the global economy. On a more prosaic note, he said more than $200 billion of CE gear will be sold in the U.S. during 2012, an increase of 3.7 percent over 2011.
Shapiro then ticked off the various venues around the show highlighting innovations, and recapped several of the key issues confronting the industry such as the fight for more spectrum and the battle against "copyright extremists." Shapiro ended his remarks by stating "change is good" and mobile technology is one of those thing changing the world for the better.
At that point, a group of what best can be described as well-dressed NYC subway break dancers appeared on stage, making moves to a "Tron"-like soundtrack. When they stopped, Paul E. Jacobs, chairman/CEO of Qualcomm, appeared on stage to begin his hour-long speech touting the great innovations of wireless - which just so happen to be powered by his company's chips, "the No. 1 supplier of silicon for wireless."
Jacobs proceeded to offer some statistics that seemed more at home at an astrophysics lecture then a CES keynote - Qualcomm spent $3 billion in R&D last year alone, they sell a million chips a day, China has a billion mobile connections, another 1.4 billion 3G connections will be made over the next three years, and - on a more fun note - that people look at their phones 150 times a day. "Right now many in audience are playing with their phones while I'm speaking. Unlike others, I'm good with that," he said to laughs. Jacobs then lauded the capabilities of his company's Snapdragon processor, and a parade of Qualcomm Snapdragon customers then appeared on stage, including Nokia and Lenovo. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop discussed his latest Windows Phone models, and he unveiled the Lumia 900 4G LTE phone for AT&T that will be available this spring.
Liu Jun, Lenovo senior VP, showed a new smart TV powered by Qualcomm that will be introduced in China. Featuring Android 4.0, it had a cool voice-controlled remote.
Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, representatives of the Sesame Workshop (Dave and Grover), then showed a new play set that works with a Qualcomm-powered tablet that offers augmented reality.
Things segued to a bit more serious as Dr. Eric Topol of Scripps Health wowed the audience with wireless devices - powered by Qualcomm - that lets consumers see their EKGs on their phones and monitor their body functions and glucose levels. He even described devices that predict whether your medicines are appropriate for your genetic makeup and could warn you if you're going to have a heart attack. The pair then laughed about the potential for a new culture of "cyber-chondriacs."
Jacobs called out Dr. Peter Diamondis, head of the XPrize Foundation, who described their next goal is to give a $10 million prize to the team that can develop a real-life medical tricorder (of "Star Trek" fame).