I took a different tack from my usual planning in that I made no appointments on Thursday, instead using the morning to catch up on writing and recover from the late night at the Monster party. There are just too many things at the show to know everything that is going on and book time with all the people you want to see.
Even when you do know someone you want to see, sometimes getting the schedule together before the show is hard, that's why I was so happy to find the guys at the Hyperkin booth not busy when I stopped by. With all the new tech out at CES it's great to find things that a new spin on old tech. Hyperkin has come out with 2 devices, the Supaboy and the Retron 3 that let you play SNES cartridges, with the Retron 3 adding both Nintendo and SEGA Genesis cartridges as well. I was hands on for a few minutes with the Supaboy which just launched in December, and I have to say it's not the first SNES portable I've seen, but it's easily the best looking. It feels like a big version of the old controllers, and it seems like it will be comfortable for a couple of hours of gaming.
Not wanting to be pidgeon holed as a company stuck firmly in the past, they've also revitalized the Game Genie series with a line of products for all consoles except the 360, and will offer products that provide additional save features, or just let you skip entering in a long code or unlocking a special suit of armor. Plus, they're in development on the AK Striker a controller attachment that mimics the look and feel of an AK-47 for the PS3 Move. The triple action version has a dual shock built right in, and they're potentially going to be releasing a model with integrated Move controller.
Maybe the thing that "wowed" me the most was the Tobii Eye Control technology. They had a game called Eye Asteroids set up in an arcade console format that allowed you to control the game almost entirely with just the movement of your eyes. When you start playing, it calibrates to your eyes through a quick series of captures of the movement of your eyes. The whole process took 15 to 20 seconds before I was up and playing. It was pretty amazing because you could shoot the asteroids on screen just as fast as you could think of it. Using current control technology, we have to involve some aspects of our body that requires moving it more than a milimeter in order to control whats going on in the game. With eye control, it's the first muscle motor that moves that will let you play the game. Eye Asteroids is more than just a tech demo, they're actually producing the arcade console for sale, presumably in hopes of supporting additional R&D. They threw in some head movement further into the game that frankly detracted from the eye control experience, so hopefully they'll continue to refine the game.
Following on the heels of controlling a game with your eyes is another technology bluring the line between game and reality. Quite a few manufacturers are beginning to come out with remote control devices that are contolled by a smartphone or tablet instead of the typical gaming controller. One such company is Interactive Toy Concepts which is producing a line of RC cars and helicopters (Wi Spi) you fly with your apple or android mobile device. The video cames back in real time and can be saved and uploaded instantly to social networks. Both will be coming to market this fall, to support their line of Medal of Honor RC gaming toys already in major retailers.
Finally, deserving mention strictly due to it's sheer visual wow factor and the ingenuity involved in the design is the In Win Xframe Limited Edition PC Chassis. I'm sorry but I don't see how anyone could look at that thing and not covet it. Sure, it might not be practical for families with hyperactive dogs or rambunctious todlers but it certainly has a sharp look to it.
After a long day cruising the show floor, I was happy to unwind in the same place I did on Tuesday night, in the Sky Suite at The Palms for the Steelseries / Simraceway "Victory Lap" party. Being that I'd been in the suite just a couple nights before, it did feel like a bit of a victory lap. I got to the party just as it opened which gave me first dibs at sitting down with the SRW-S1 controller while playing the Simraceway very, very poorly. While I was doing a bit of drinking and (virtual) driving, the alcohol seemed to have neither a positive or negative effect on my time behind the wheel. The controller had every bit the feel of a F1 wheel, and the built in flaps meant not requiring pedals in order to get a more authentic racing experience. Even putting me in the suped up version of a car I've actually driven (BMW Z4) at a course I lived fairly close to (Mid-Ohio) didn't help me much, but it did leave me wanting more. With Simraceway available for free, loaded with tracks, paying just for the cars you drive (thankfully at a mere 1/1000th of their actual price), and the SRW-S1 coming in at a surprisingly low $119, quite the fulfilling racing experience can be had pretty inexpensively.
I lived it up a bit at the party knowing I'd be flying home in the morning with little time left to spend at the show. I know there are tons of things I wish I had seen this year that I missed, but it's all the more reason to go back next year and try once again to see it all.