The Digital Life Trade Floor
Living A Digital Life:
A Report From The Digital Life Convetion
October 14th-17th 2004
Jacob Javitz Center
By Omar Jon Ajluni
Life is digital. Music is digital.
Photos are digital. TV, video games, magazines, all digital
and their accessibility and convenience just been made that
much better. This year’s Digital Life conference and
trade show, held at the Jacob Javits Center in NY from Oct.
14-17th, was the exhibit to reveal the most promising products
scheduled to hit the market for this holiday season and
Do not misunderstand the purpose of this conference and trade
show. Digital Life is more than just products. In fact, it was
more of a glimpse into the future of one’s own living room
than a chain of sales pitches. America Online created a mock house
with several rooms to exhibit their latest internet optimizing
ideas and offers. I had the pleasure of viewing the Jets/49ers
game at Intel’s demonstration theater with a plasma TV and
7.1 speaker surround sound. I also got to see their entertainment
PC in action, which allows you to record simultaneous TV broadcasts
onto PVR, keep a digital media collection, and play PC video games.
When I first walked onto
the trade floor, the Google lab was on my left, and Microsoft’s
Digital Theater was on my right. The Google station was
colorful, themed with giant, motorized cranes that could
pick up oversized foam blocks. Their computer stations and
representatives were pushing Google’s online shopping
service called Froogle. The advanced way in which the Google
search engine can crawl through the web makes it the most
powerful and useful digital tool on the internet. Though
just a search engine, Google’s power seemed almost
overwhelming as they were located right at the entrance
and exit to the show.
Microsoft, just next door, featured workshops on maximizing
your online digital music experience, digitally preserving
and sharing your memories, protecting your digital lifestyle,
and much more. There was another digital theater used for
demonstrations sponsored by Digital Life, but it was in
the far back corner of the trade floor, and seemed to attract
less attention than its Microsoft counterpart.
of the smaller satellite and cable TV companies
had Jets fans, like myself, relaxing on leather
couches watching flat screens of varying sizes while
their families were busy taking pictures with the
Energizer Bunny or a Storm Trooper. Then again,
I’m guilty of posing with AOL’s Running
Man, but it was just too classic a moment to pass
|Intel provided us with some
short-lived Blue Man Group entertainment as well as some “extreme”
skateboarders who tripped up a couple kickflips and a few
tail grinds on a portable grind rail. The purpose was to amuse
and simultaneously introduce some of their easy-to-use products
like the previously mentioned PVR.
||Robert C. Crooke, VP of the
Desktop Platforms Group of Intel gave his windy, stuttering
presentation to a half interested audience who were vastly
more compelled by blue painted percussionists, but he did
get across one important point. Intel, with years of experience
in developing new digital technology, is really trying to
centralize your media and make it easy for you to play, watch,
listen, or store whatever media you want. Its universality
is still a few years away, though its introduction this holiday
season will set a pace for the future of digital evolution.
And more importantly, I got to be one of the first to see
Tony Hawk’s Underground 2.
Many people go to the Digital Life convention for the video games,
and rightfully so. Independent gaming companies like Vivendi Universal,
Activision, and Nintendo were demonstrating some of their new
games, though some of the largest attractions weren’t new
games, but really popular old games. Dance Dance Revolution competition
attracted a large crowd with a $1000 cash prize for the winner,
and I had a chance to get in on an informal Super Smash Brothers
tournament. It just goes to show that great games never die.
Just past Google’s childish foam block construction lab
was a space station of Xbox’s connected to back-to-back
flat screens. Early on the first day of the convention, as a catered
member of the press, I got to check out all the new games for
this holiday before the masses had a chance to attack, though
there was nothing really revolutionary on the rise.
|Tony Hawk’s Underground
2 looked to be, yet again, another major success. My favorite
little add-on in this game is a little meter that pops up
when you fall off your board. You get a couple seconds to
smash the buttons as hard and fast as you can. If you get
the meter up, you reach “Freak out,” at which
point you may just throw your skateboard at an innocent bystander.
Nice touch to an already well conceived game.
A Gamer Gets A Sneak Preview In The Nintendo SUV, Outfitted
10 GameCube Systems.
|Nintendo had their pimped
SUV set up with Gamecube consoles in the trunk, in the side
windows, and hooked up to fold down flat screens in the back
seat. They were exhibiting Metroid Prime 2, Donkey Konga,
Spiderman 2, and Soul Caliber, among others. Donkey Konga
looks to be a fun button-timing musical rhythm game. It also
features to bongo controller, which actually lets you use
hand percussion to play. The bongos have microphones to sense
your hand taps AND your hand claps, which play an important
role in the musical game. This looks to be Nintendo’s
staple character stab at a DDR/PaRappa the Rapper type game.
Reviews have shown it to be fun, and I thought it was cool,
but who knows if it will actually catch on. Personally, I
would much rather play a quality Rareware Donkey Kong adventure.
I got a chance to look at some of Xbox’s upcoming titles
as well including a new Conker’s adventure game as well
as Vivendi’s Fight Club (based on the book and movie). Another
interesting Vivendi release is a game called Men of Valor, a Vietnam
War first-person shooter taking place in 2015. I was desperately
looking for a Halo 2 demo, but I was told that no one was letting
that cat out of the bag. Instead, I got a Halo 2 trailer on a
big screen TV.
Xbox had a huge stake in this year’s Digital Life conference
with practically hundreds of gaming systems everywhere the eye
could see, whereas Nintendo only had their Xzibit approved SUV,
and the Sony PS2 was no where to be found. Sports games were well
represented by ESPN and Electronic Arts, though Microsoft Game
Studios was boasting war games, adventure games, sci-fi shooters,
racing games, and martial arts fighting games. With Acclaim recently
going belly up, the independent gaming companies are looking to
score with fresh ideas, but it’s getting harder and harder
to do. I’m looking forward to the new Metroid (Nintendo),
Viewtiful Joe 2 (Capcom, a Japanese company that wasn’t
at DL), Halo 2 (Microsoft), and the Journey to the Wild Divine
(Independent), which is a meditative adventure using the gamer’s
biofeedback as a controller. (see our Digital Life product reviews
for more detailed information).
Digital photography is taking America by storm, and Digital Life
hosted a number of companies looking to enhance the user friendly
digi-photo experience. Some have estimated that it will only be
two or three years before we give up on hard film completely.
There were many products and programs being pitched to help custom
organize and display your vast digital photo collection. One product
was simply a picture frame with a screen that projected a slide
show of a digital photo album. I could imagine futuristic homes
having just 3 picture frames, all of them just slowly fading through
thousands of pictures.
|Another company is trying
to digitize your kids. The colorfully striped Hip-E computer
is a PC designed for teenagers, and their booth on the trade
floor was the only one to host guest DJs. The computer includes
a small, wireless flash drive that is completely compatible
with the desktop platform for portable music, photos, documents
and more. The Hip-E experience is customized to the younger
demographic with all the necessary elements of a standard
PC, from 2GB of memory and 120GB of hard drive space to a
17” flat screen and DVD player/CD burner. Soon enough,
they’ll have a PC that can customize itself to your
growing child. It will slowly change as its adolescent user
gets older. It’s not so far away, is it?
Year in and year out, Digital Life is going to reveal a wide
array of products, programs, and ideas that will become part of
every day activities. We think music, photography, gaming, and
television are slowly becoming digital, when in reality, they
are doing so faster than ever before. By next year, exhibitors
will have made much greater advances than they have in the past
year. From iPod competitors to meditative gaming, from digital
photo frames to entertainment media PCs, digital life will be
even more consolidated and simple with each coming year.