The aforementioned Snowden campaign also loomed over Hannover, with every third vendor, visitor, and janitor displaying some kind of NSA-proof gadget or technology. Phones with drop-down menus of exotic encryption schemes; PCs that accept fingerprints, vein patterns, facial recognition, and body odor -- all present and accounted for (and all true, though that last one is still in the research stages). Alas, my minions and their currywurst diets were unable to test out the body odor detectors, but there's always next year.
The encryption schemes sound great at first blush, until you realize users must employ the same chat/email/file-sharing app at both ends and possess some understanding of encryption. Thus, you can realistically expect about 10 people in the United States to use them and, in the process, fast-track their road to a thorough waterboarding with currywurst-infused H2O imported from south of the border.
Big data and hot air
Big data made a splash not just as a technology but as a decoration, too. Apparently, the entire 54,000-square-foot convention space was surrounded by a visual surface that illustrated big data in its real-time bit- and byte-shifting glory, which was either beautiful to see or excruciatingly painful, depending on your hangover level. The minions were never able to figure out exactly what kind of big data was being represented, though one postulated it might be showing up-to-the-second changes in Zuckerberg's comic book and action figure collections.
Maybe the most popular CeBIT conversation involved the Internet of things (iThings), a phenomenon both mysterious and pervasive, like the Force or the Kardashians. This wonderfully vague term was exactly what Merkel and Cameron needed to deliver passionate promises that ensured each country would lead the world in building connected appliances, automobiles, and preschool fuzzy toys. Naturally, promoting any responsible security measure between babbling iThings wasn't much discussed, just all the glorious dollar-, pound-, and euro-generating possibilities you find when a stuffed dog and a Volkswagen talk to each other -- fahrvergwüfen over IPv6.
By all accounts, this week in Hannover was an epic tech fest that broke new ground in debutante technologies, political fist shaking, and culinary cataclysms. I'm sorry I missed it.
This article, "Sad, sexy, or self-sufficient, your robot overlords await," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.