LAS VEGAS — It’s not too hard for overseas electronics companies to lift the hardware designs and concepts of hot new products from U.S. tech giants.
But copying tricky software is a different matter, so it was a little surprising to see how many imitators of Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect sensor unit showed up at CES this year.
They weren’t just small Asian manufacturers hawking mockups in the far reaches of the show.
LG unabashedly showed a Kinect-ish game sensor in the middle of its huge display in the main hall. It said the 3D “LG Gesture Cam” will go on sale later this year. Perhaps it will work with the Gaikai and OnLive game services that are now being linked to LG’s Web connected TVs.
Then there is the “Touchless Touch Screen” from Korea’s Macron, which was demonstrating a prototype of its system that uses a 2D camera to sense gestures that are used to control TVs and set-top boxes.
This isn’t a Kinect knockoff, though – the brochure said it’s “Totally Different Technology!”
Kinect’s cousin, the Microsoft Surface computer, also made a cameo appearance in the booth of Hong Kong’s TimeLink. The company’s offering a Core i5 and Windows 7-based coffee table computer running Surface apps for $6,000 – a bargain compared to the $8,900 model offered by Microsoft and Samsung.
UPDATE: I posted this too soon – before finding the mother lode of Kinectish sensors in the booth of Omek, a middleware company that offers gesture and tracking software:
Even more exciting was a device on display deeper in the convention center – the first public glimpse of an apple TV.
This one doesn’t have a broadcast tuner but it does have internal storage for video content you record yourself – up to 30 seconds worth, that can be displayed on its 1.7-inch screen. It will cost $12 if you buy at least 500 from Mr. Buick at Wealth Land Electronics in Shenzhen, China.