Karaoke has a new best friend, and its name is LTE. At CES, TouchTunes and Verizon Wireless unveiled its new digital jukebox with a networked karaoke feature, allowing bar and restaurant patrons to not only pull their favorite songs out of the airwaves but also sing along to them as well. No DJ necessary: You reserve your performance slots and pick your songs on a smartphone app, adding another mobile element to the mix. Verizon is not responsible for the heckling you receive when you miss the high notes (or the low and middle ones, for that matter).
Verizon had a few new LTE smartphones to show off at CES, but at the show it seemed absolutely determined to insert its new network’s tendrils into as many non-phone devices as possible. We already know about the connected car, but here are a few of the more interesting examples:
- Diebold showed off a concept ATM, which uses 4G connectivity not only to authorize transactions but also to send detailed diagnostic and trouble reports to the companies that maintain the cash machines. The enhanced connection even allows those companies to fix nonmechanical problems remotely. The ATM could be stuck anywhere, requiring only a power source to operate, and it could even call security if a suspicious character starts fiddling with it. Now if only Verizon could figure out a way to send the actual cash over the airwaves . . .
- In addition to the Karaoke jukebox, TouchTunes showed off its forthcoming LTE-connected photo booth, which allows you to not only capture your evening of drunken debauchery in still images but also to instantly share those images on Facebook and Twitter before the inevitable feelings of shame kick in.
- Alcatel-Lucent’s ng Connect and VisionMax demoed an LTE-connected shopping kiosk that will use near field communication to pull up a 3-D avatar loaded into your phone. You can then dress that avatar up in the different outfits and accessories available at that store. Assuming the avatar is a reasonable facsimile of your body type — sorry, no centaurs — you could get a general idea of what you would look like in the store’s clothes without actually trying them on. You can even use Vidyo’s HD video conferencing technology to connect to an on-call fashion consultant who will praise you on your impeccable fashion sense.
- Verizon embedded LTE into VGo robots, allowing its booth workers to talk up CES attendees remotely using VGo’s remote telepresence capabilities. Many of the robotic assistants available today link to the network through Wi-Fi, which works great if you happen to be in range of an access point. Verizon is betting that these remote physical avatars will want a broader range. Maybe they won’t go to lunch with the boss, but they can at least make it to the water cooler for office chitchat.