Friday, June 22, 2007

Vegas and High Tech

Yesterday's R-J had a front-page story about a Las Vegas City Council effort to create a citywide wi-fi Internet hot zone. It's interesting and largely irrelevant to tourists on account of the fact that the Strip is not in the city of Las Vegas and the hotels and their Internet service providers would never allow such an effort to cut into the cash cow that is the extortion that is their daily Internet fees. (That, of course, was necessary now that so few hotel guests in the age of cell phones pay up the age-old scam that is the fees to use the hotel telephone.)

Anyhow, it's Benjamin Spillman's cheapshot lead that bugged me:

"A place where coinless slot machines are considered high technology is moving closer to the ranks of cities with widespread wireless Internet access."

Now wait a sec. Is the implication here that Vegas is some sort of Luddite state? That the best technology we're known for is ticket-in/ticket-out? Really?

In actuality, Vegas is a fascinating proving ground and an unusual application for a long list of intriguing new technology that I've been writing about for many years. Here are just five of my favorites:

1. The e-Winebook at Charlie Palmer's Aureole. (See my Newsweek piece.) It's an Internet tablet that allows diners to search the ginormous wine selection by price, varietal, region and food pairing, then email themselves their selections so they can buy it again when they get home. And after it takes the sting out of the usually intimidating experience of wading through the leather-bound brick of most wine lists, you can watch the wine angels via live, streaming video.

2. The Fountains at Bellagio. Nuff said.

3. The Theaters. The stage folds at Love, oscillates at Le Reve and O, spins at Ka. (See my NY Times piece on the Ka theater.) The chandelier plummets at Phantom. The backdrop is eye-popping for Celine/Elton. Amazing stuff, and nobody builds them like we do for several reasons I outline in this USA Today piece.

4. The Fremont Street Experience light show. See my Wired piece on it.

5. The Interactive Tabletops of Tabu. As predicted in my Wired piece on it years ago, the technology is spreading. It's now used to project images near Shark Reef, the MGM Grand Convention Center and during Ka.

Oh, and the slot machine technology is pretty amazing, too, particularly the advances made in video graphics and interactivity.

I'm sure I've missed a few. I may want to do a piece on this, so anyone got any other favorites?


dan kane said...

over at the new york new york you can scan your valet ticket instead of handing to someone. it alerts the people in the garage to bring your vehicle. makes a lot more sense and i haven't seen that anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

I know you're going to mock me, but I think the monofail has some interesting technology, too, so long as it can hang on to all its parts.

gregory_zephyr said...

Actually slot machines themselves are pretty high tech. Each one is essentially a networked computer similar to ATM's. I don't know how you could measure this but with all the showrooms, theaters, and conference facilities, I would guess there is more high tech audio/visual, lighting, and climate control equipment per capita than anywhere outside of maybe NY or LA.