Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Day at CeBIT

Let's face it, CeBIT is huge. Compared to that location in Hanover, the Brussels Expo site (Heysel) is a confetti. As first consequence, my day at CeBIT was first and foremost a walking day. I walked a lot just to cross all 23 buildings tentatively trying to look at every stand. At least I did try. Happily, the weather was nice and shiny allowing me to walk outside all facilities while enjoying the architecture and design of the place. Well to be more precise, I should say I kept doing it while passing from one palace to the next one. For the rest, I spend most of my day in overcrowded facilities.

Now what can I say about the content ? For someone working in IT, an IT fair is not much surprising. All large IT companies are present but these are also present in your country when trying to push you from prospect to client inside their funnel. Some of these will have huge stands fully equipped with banners, gadgets, sexy hostesses to attract people and serious male managers to actually do the talk !

Among the funniest gadgets, I noticed a fully automated warehouse management system built using some toys I played with back when I was a kid (Fischertechnik). It was fully controlled by a program and I could watch the crate moving all along the supply chain path while different robots were detecting it and automatically performing the right operation with it (pick, move, store, lift...). A real pleasure for the eyes.

I won't hammer you with all Chinese copies of keyboards, video cards, computer fans, mobile whatever, USB sexy sticks and other electronic devices I saw. You can find them all at Wal-Mart or on the Internet. Most "consumers" devices exhibited there are well-known anyway. Instead, I will only list a couple of the most interesting innovations I could test. First, there is video on paper. Right, you print it like a picture, then when put in front of a special lamp, it starts moving. Think about an animated GIF picture but on a sheet of paper. Then there were computers you could command with your eyes. It is easy to use and quite relaxing for your right hand (no more mouse to use).

All in all, a day is just too short to get into everything, especially as there are so many technical sessions you cannot attend because you have not the time to spend there. However and on second thought, it did not really matter as 85% of all explanations or documentation was in German. That was the negative surprise of the day. it was a permanent fight to track and find English documentation !!! And I thought there were no IT outside English ...

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