The 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has just begun and instead of crazy crowds of thousands of people pouring into Las Vegas to see the latest tech innovations, this year’s show has gone all digital.
The networking event, which typically involves booths, meetings, demos, and many people exchanging handshakes and pleasantries, is understandably running as a virtual conference this week. From January 11th until January 14th, the 54th CES is hosting its massive event completely online for the first time as the world still grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
Moving to a virtual forum will mean live-streamed announcements at various hours this week as well as Zoom panels and Microsoft Teams videos. While tech companies have paid thousands for just a patch of floor at previous CES events, they have reportedly paid anywhere from $1,200 to $85,000 to exhibit their products at this week’s all-digital conference. Companies involved this year receive a listing in the CES directory and, depending on the cost, also include in official events and branding.
1,800 exhibitors from around the world will fill CES 2021’s “digital venue” according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the non-profit that hosts the event. In comparison, there were 4,000 exhibitors at the in-person event in 2020. This year the CTA staff will have to review all the content to be broadcast because the audience is now global.
Attendees who have registered to go to the digital event will be able to search through the registry of exhibitors to watch new product presentations. Speakers such as Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and GM CEO Mary Barra will address over 150,000 attendees remotely at this year’s conference.
While home automation, 5G, and health expect to be buzz-worthy topics at CES 2021, they also expect the event to showcase many pandemic-specific features.
According to research manager Jonathan Collins at ABI Research, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped boost the appeal of home care, social and educational robots, which are all expected to be featured at this year’s event.
“Look for a number of health solutions, especially those that claim that they can tell you if you are showing signs of possible infection — raised body temp, elevated heart rate and respiration — or if you are socially distanced enough,” said Ramon Llamas, a research director at market intelligence firm IDC.
Social distancing, self-quarantining, and the closure of many gyms made it harder to exercise last year in person, which has only amplified the demand for fitness at home.
“Or look at different disinfection solutions for the home, similar to the ones that claim they can zap unwanted or dangerous microbes on your phone,” he added.
In line with the “stay at home” appeal, many attendees are looking forward to seeing home smart device technology including refrigerators, washers, vacuum cleaners, and air filters which may get smarter with voice integration built in.
The Airthings Mold Risk Indicator for Wave Mini is expected to be showcased this week and is an expanded capability for the Wave Mini smart home sensor that uses an algorithm to determine the likelihood of mold growth indoors.
Microsoft president Brad Smith is also expected to discuss expanding global broadband this week by using unused broadcast spectrum during the company’s presentation.
AMD may also unveil a rumored chip that could help computers handle multiplayer games better while HP Inc. will show off the second-gen version of its virtual reality headset, the HP Reverb G2, which is aimed at both commercial users and gamers.
According to the CES website, roughly 20 sessions this week will also cover 5G and how it will reinvent various industries such as automobiles and smart cities to healthcare and farming.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the robust need for 5G technologies, as millions of people staying home have caused internet usage to skyrocket.
Research director at ABI Research, David McQueen, has projected that 5G-connected laptops will appear this week. Both Verizon and AT&T Business will also discuss their 5G networks and future 5G plans. The event could additionally be the perfect time for companies like Dell and Lenovo to unveil their own 5G endeavors.
As more people are working from home, Dell is debuting a new series of monitors that will allow for improved video conferencing, such as the Dell 34 Curved Video Conferencing Monitor. Lenovo will be using CES 2021 to unveil several new devices, including its IdeaPad 5 Pro, which will feature the new Alexa Show Mode capability, adding voice control via the Amazon Alexa assistant. The Alexa Show Mode feature “turns your PC into an Echo Show-like display,” Lenovo says.
Despite not being in person, a lot of interesting technology is set to be seen this week. Many are optimistic that a virtual event can still be rewarding including Gary Shapiro, president, and chief executive of CTA. “We’re trying to take some of the serendipity that happens during the in-person CES — that chance encounter with a new partner or an innovative product you see while walking the show floor — and bringing it to the digital venue,” said Shapiro.