Attendees in the clogged aisles of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas listen to a presentation by Control4, Salt Lake City.

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Arlington, Va., warned in his opening address Jan. 7 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas of storm clouds over the free trade among nations that his industry has been enjoying.

Shapiro predicted that consumer electronic industry sales will increase in 2008 to $171 billion, an increase of 6.1 percent over 2007.

He also announced that the CEA, the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), wrote a letter to Congress urging approval of pending free trade agreements and restoration of the president’s ability to negotiate free trade.

Panasonic AVC Networks Company President Toshihiro Sakamoto delivered the opening keynote address, in which he displayed a prototype plasma television less than one-inch thick, another one with a screen measuring 150 inches diagonally (11 feet wide) and wireless transmission of high definition video.

Availability and pricing of the unit has not been determined yet. It has been designed for commercial use and requires video with resolution four times higher than that of current high-definition video.

Sakamoto reported that the company has sold 3,000 of its previous plasma record-holder, which has a 103-inch screen and is priced at approximately $70,000.

An experimental technology called Life Wall also was demonstrated in a simulation. It allows an entire wall of a home to function as a television screen on which television and images of furniture, windows and other furnishings, along with Internet content, can be displayed and arranged with a wave of the hand.

The wall also has facial recognition technology that allows it to identify a home’s residents, greet them and display their preferences.

Johnson Controls will utilize a control system for commercial buildings below 100,000 sq. ft. called Touch 4 that will be supplied by Control 4. Johnson Controls estimates the market for smaller commercial building at $55 billion to $65 billion internationally. The Control 4 system uses the Zigbee standard to control security, HVAC and other building systems.

Panasonic employees display the largest plasma screen, which measures 150 inches diagonally and is approximately 11 feet wide, at the company’s booth.

A new flat-panel display technology called organic light-emitting diode (OLED) that has been in development for years was shown. Sony is selling in its Sony Style stores and seven retailers nationwide an OLED television with a screen that measures 11 in. diagonally for an approximate manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $2,500.

This is believed to be the first OLED television offered widely to consumers. OLEDs currently are used in smaller sizes in flip cell phones and other personal electronic items.

Samsung showed a prototype of a larger OLED television with a screen measuring 31 in. diagonally and less than one inch thick. OLED technology is being developed for flexible substrates, but these televisions use fixed glass.

OLED technology promises thinner panels with high resolution, low latency and power requirements estimated at half those of other LCD or plasma flat panels. OLED screens provide their own illumination.

A new company that plans to deliver full high-definition video and audio to homes by satellite was announced by actor/producer Michael Douglas, one of the company’s investors.

“It’s as if you went to the video store and grabbed copies of all the movies you wanted to see,” said George Gonzalez, president and founder of XStreamHD, McLean, Va., explaining the company’s business model. “There is no queue as there is with Netflix.”

Movies, television shows, music and other media will be stored on the company’s media server in 1080 progressive video and 7.1 lossless audio. Up to four HD streams can be distributed around a home by the server.

Plans are to allow video consumers to choose the movies available to them, which then will be downloaded to the consumer’s server on the day videos are released. A payment system that is a hybrid of individual pay-per-view charges and a subscription is being considered.

No contracts for content have been signed yet by XStreamHD, Gonzalez conceded, but he anticipates such contracts being signed when satellite transmission begins next October.