CES Countdown: Startups Plant their Flags and Changes Coming to TV

Each January the makers of gadgets big and small bring an electronic carnival to Las Vegas as they tease the world with glimpses of devices they plan to unleash during the coming year. A few changes are in store for next week’s International CES, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center and nearby hotels. After last January’s swan song, long-time participant Microsoft will not deliver a keynote address in 2013, but is still listed among the exhibitors—in a meeting room at the Venetian Hotel rather than the sprawling displays of old.

Even with Microsoft’s presence dramatically reduced, much seems to be brewing for the conference. New York Angels has partnered with the Consumer Electronics Association and event company ShowStoppers to showcase startups at the conference and potentially help them find seed funding.

Next Monday 10 startups will have the chance to demo their ideas for investors and press (including yours truly) at a new event called ShowStoppers LaunchIt. A collaboration between ShowStoppers and Launch.It, a product publicity platform co-founded by New York Angels chairman Brian Cohen, it is part of the growing role startups have at the conference. Last January marked the debut of Eureka Park, an exhibitor area within the conference specifically for startups. The ShowStoppers LaunchIt event will feature companies chosen from some 140 exhibitors booked to appear at Eureka Park next week.

It can be hard for startups to standout at a conference populated by the likes of Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic, so the continued presence of Eureka Park is a quick way to spot innovators such as New York’s Condition One. A TechStars alum backed by Mark Cuban, Condition One developed technology that allows cameras to capture more angles and give images greater context. The company will be an exhibitor at Eureka Park next week.

Looking at the usual CES heavyweights, new LED televisions will likely be unveiled next week. However, the increasing competition for the so-called second screen and video distribution may be even more interesting to watch. In recent years we have seen startups develop gadgets and platforms for finding, sharing, and watching video on TVs and mobile devices whenever viewers want. Shodogg in Valhalla, NY, for example, created an app for moving video from smartphones to other Web-enabled devices. San Francisco–based Flingo’s SyncApps pulls up interactive content related to the shows that users watch. Premium channels such as HBO and satellite television companies DirecTV already let subscribers watch movies and shows on their tablets, and the landscape continues to change.

The cloud-based UltraViolet digital distribution platform, developed by the Digital Entertainment Group in Los Angeles, could be on display on more devices and services at next week’s CES. The Digital Entertainment Group is a consortium of studios, media companies, electronics makers, and others. UltraViolet lets consumers buy and watch movies and TV episodes on tablets, laptops, TVs, and other devices. It remains to be seen if this platform is just adding to the cacophonic fragmentation in the cloud-based video distribution market, or sparking a modicum of consolidation.

There will be more to report from my perch in Vegas on these and other topics next week when the conference gets underway.

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