Green is the new watchword in the consumer electronics industry – just take a look at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week.
Amid the 2,700 exhibitors will be companies from startups to electronics giants promoting energy-efficient TVs, laptop battery chargers and efforts to reduce the "carbon footprint" of manufacturing and business operations.
CES started promoting itself as a "green" trade show last year. While the show's "Greener Gadgets Tech Zone" will have only 20 companies presenting this year, that's up from 9 companies in the previous year, said Tara Dunion, CES spokeswoman.
Among them are Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, and Medis Technologies, which make fuel cells to power consumer electronics device; ELV Motors, maker of electric bicycles and scooters; and carbon emissions modeling software maker Planet Metrics (see Planet Metrics Launches Carbon Modeling, Raises $2.3M),
Solar companies feature heavily in the greener gadgets mix, with companies including PowerFilm, which is developing lightweight, flexible solar photovoltaic materials for building-integrated and portable uses; Solio, maker of a handheld solar charging device for use with consumer electronics; and Freeplay Energy, a company that makes solar-powered radios and hand-crank powered flashlights.
Then there are companies pitching products that help PCs, cell phones, cameras and other consumer electronics use energy more efficiently.
Tricklestar makes a USB-connected device that the company says can switch a PC's peripheral devices on and off by detecting when the computer is on or off. Green Plug has developed technology for power interfaces that can take wall-socket power and deliver it to different consumer electronics devices to maximize efficiency and avoid wasting power on already charged-up batteries. And iGo Inc. is hitting CES with chargers, surge protectors and wall outlets that automatically shut off so-called "vampire" power to devices that don't need it.
The energy-efficiency action isn't limited to startups. Japanese manufacturers will likely trot out ultra-efficient TVs and other appliances at CES this year. Many of these manufacturers showed off energy efficient TV sets at CEATEC, Japan's version of CES, back in October (see Venture Power in Japan: Green Electronics). However, these same companies often re-introduce products at CES for U.S. audiences.
As part of the green push, CES will host a number of panel discussions addressing efficiency improvements for batteries and chargers, different strategies for saving energy with electronic devices, and best practices in electronics recycling.
Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Sharp will have executives on hand for a session on "Going Green: More Than a Label," and a Saturday session on "greener gadgets" will lay out emerging trends and technologies in sustainable design for consumer electronics.
And when it comes to the logistics of running a trade show, CES wants people to know it's more environmentally conscious. The show offers exhibitors a "sustainable exhibit solutions" package with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified exhibit walls, recycled carpeting and shelves and counters made from formaldehyde-free particle board.
CES also has cut its paper use in half, Dunion said, and offers food containers made from biodegradable materials made from hemp, corn and other organic sources.