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Microsoft highlights flexible household objects at CES
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09:47, January 10, 2009

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As the 2009 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) entered its second day in Las Vegas on Friday, software giant Microsoft's display of a hardware and software platform for the next generation of more useful and flexible household objects, appliances and accessories has become one of the highlights.

Two of the concept designs featured in a video at the booth area "net" clock that, in addition to giving the time, can also download and display a stock ticker and local traffic and weather reports, and a digital photo frame that can not only download users' latest holiday photos, but can also be programmed to display anything else available on the Internet, from current news headlines and sports scores to full-length movies.

The Windows-based platform is the result of a collaboration between Microsoft and a recently formed company called Fugoo, Microsoft said in a press release.

"The myriad gadgets of everyday life are getting smarter and more useful," said the release. "But what may come as a surprise is that household appliances and devices are about to get connected to the outside world through cyberspace."

"The combination of Fugoo's platform and Microsoft Windows opens up almost limitless possibilities for transforming ordinary household items, allowing them to perform all sorts of new functions and services," said Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of the Original Equipment Manufacturer Division at Microsoft.

"Imagine having your alarm clock not only wake you up but also remind you what your first appointment of the day is and calculate how long it will take you to drive to work based on current traffic conditions."

John Hui, who co-founded Fugoo a year ago, said: "Many vendors are trying to come up with a multipurpose magic bullet to satisfy all the information needs in the home, but this sort of solution is bound to be expensive and complex. We're taking a fundamentally different approach, building devices with computing power and Internet connections to perform specific functions in order to keep costs low and the user interface simple."

Hui has coined the term "neo-diginet" to describe this new generation of Internet-linked devices. "Our platform will make it fast, easy and affordable to build an almost unlimited variety of neo-diginet devices -- from digital photo frames to coffee makers and refrigerators -- that will redefine the term 'household appliance,'" he said.

The first neo-diginet devices are expected to hit the market in late 2009. Company leaders hope that once their technology proves its appeal, appliance and device manufacturers will start offering Fugoo-ready products equipped with docking ports for its modules, just as some cars now come equipped with docking stations for portable media players, according to the Microsoft release.

The CES, the world's largest trade show for consumer technology, runs from Jan. 8 to 11 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is the industry's largest educational forum to help companies expand their businesses and understand new technology. Approximately 200 conferences and more than 300 expert speakers encompass this year's CES conferences, Industry Insiders and Super Sessions to discuss hot industry trends and topics.

Source: Xinhua

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