To paraphrase the old aphorism: "If you want to make money in a gold rush, invest in shovels."
I frequently cite this saying when looking at the consumer electronics industry, because that's often how you find the next ten million-selling device, or the next hot company that could be your boss.
In the CES central hall this year, one of the trends you can't walk ten feet without encountering is the hyperconnected 3DTV. The biggest CE companies all have gigantic booths dedicated to them, and they're the cutting-edge entertainment technology on everyone's lips.
These companies are about to seriously start pushing the "movie theater at home" experience to consumers. So where do I look? Remote controls.
To suit the IP-connected, App-serving 3D television, one has to consider an equally connected remote control. SilverPAC is about to start selling its Evolution 5500 home automation system to suit that market. It's a remote control appropriate for a home full of wireless devices.
Though it looks huge and unwieldy to a person used to dealing with smartphones, the Evolution 5500 is quite a logical size for what it does. What exactly does it do?
The 4.3" resistive touchscreen controls your home entertainment devices (TV, Stereo, Game System, Set-top boxes), connected home automation systems including air conditioning, lighting, and curtains, and connects with --and accesses content from-- your mobile PC or desktop computer through Windows Media Center.
The remote has enough power behind it (400MHz ARM processor, 256MB SDRAM, 1GB of flash memory, and Windows Embedded CE) to let you stream content from your Media Center PC while you still have all the automation controls at your disposal.
It has a built-in microphone and speaker for VOIP telephony, includes a 3-axis motion sensor, and when in its charging dock, it becomes a wireless photo frame with content from your synced Windows Live account.
The kicker is the price. This is, without a doubt, a luxury item. When it goes on sale next month, it will retail for $1,299.
However, with all the interest surrounding the Boxee remote by D-link, the new generation of 3D-capable displays coming to the high-end consumer, and the nascent smart metering and home automation market, innovative remote controls are a category with mass market growth potential several years down the road.