These two technologies could, using different vectors, address usage models for PCs that have been unsafe or impossible before now and better allow existing hardware to use Microsoft's next operating system.
HzO and Liquipel
Two technologies came seemingly from out of left field to CES, both designed to waterproof iPods, iPhones and other personal technology products. HzO is applied during manufacturing and waterproofs at the component level (water gets in but does no damage) and Liquipel is an external coating which puts a water resistant barrier and an optional damage resistant barrier on the outside of the device. IT buyers could spec products to come with HzO applied or have Liquipel applied after the fact.
Lots of hardware is out in the field and water damage is both expensive and common. Hardware used for testing comes immediately to mind and there's nothing to say that one or both technologies couldn't be applied to vehicles, allowing them and the electronics inside to better survive the elements. Given that moisture is often what causes electronics to corrode and decay over time these solutions could be the equivalent of a Fountain of Youth, significantly extending the useful life of hardware that operates in moist or humid environments. In tropical areas particularly this could be a godsend.
Of all of the technologies I've listed, these two could have the biggest long-term impact.
One More Thing
From virtual desktops to more attractive but increasingly IT-focused PCs, to doing away with keyboards and mice, and finally to making hardware immortal, you'd think this would be enough. However, IBM was at the show showcasing its Smarter Home technology, which dovetails with its larger Smarter Cities and Smarter Planet initiatives. Smarter Home is focused on making homes smarter, safer, and far more energy efficient. This is an example of an initiative that started in businesses and suggests that, just as enterprises are faced with technology coming in from the consumer side, IBM is pushing the other way and giving consumers this same wonderful opportunity.
Granted this has been tried, in some form or other, since the early 80s with the X-10 home automation standard but those consumer-sourced technologies never sold well. Perhaps what was needed was a product that, in this case, had initially been vetted in business and government. But, in the end, it's nice that given the wave of consumer products breaking over IT that someone is trying to return the favor.