Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tech fair CeBIT hopes new gadgets will woo back consumers

CeBIT, the world's biggest technology trade fair, opened to the public in Hannover on Tuesday, as the beleaguered IT sector sought to woo consumers with trendy gadgets to make life easier and more fun.

"Connected Worlds" is the theme of this year's trade show, with companies aiming to showcase energy and labour-saving devices that use wireless technology to communicate with each other and with users far away. But, as ever, the CeBIT is not all work and no play.

A host of mind-boggling futuristic devices will be on display, from mobile phones that can open your front door to "silent sound" devices that measure the movements of your lips and transform them into sound.

And hot on the heels of the stunning success of James Cameron's 3D film adventure "Avatar," the latest edition of CeBIT is definitely best viewed in three dimensions.

From screens that transform two-dimensional images into three by monitoring a viewer's eye patterns to 3D Internet that allows shoppers to "try on" the latest fashions, 3D is the unofficial buzzword of this year's show.

This year, however, the CeBIT takes place against a tricky backdrop for Germany's high-tech sector, as the industry recovers gingerly from a crisis-hit 2009 and cautiously eyes better days ahead.

According to German IT industry lobby, BITKOM, turnover in the sector will be flat this year, before growing by around 1.6 percent in 2011 to €142 billion ($193 billion).

After a catastrophic 2009, where turnover shrank 4.3 percent, "demand is taking off significantly, especially in the IT sector," said BITKOM President August-Wilhelm Scheer.

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