The Consumer Electronics Show is a big deal among nerds. More than 150,000 of them are converging on the big tech trade show in Las Vegas this week to see the latest in trends and new products for 2016.
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, said that CES is the biggest show ever, and it reflects the growing importance of technology in our daily lives. He spoke to a crowd of 5,000 people ahead of the keynote speech of Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. Shapiro is ever the optimist, as the head lobbyist for all of tech.
The show covers 2.4 million square feet of space across several convention centers, including the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo. There are nine car makers at CES, some of them introducing driverless cars and electric vehicles. The sharing economy is kicking into full gear, as Uber, Lyft, and Silvercar serve CES. (The crowd actually cheered when Shapiro mentioned Uber and Lyft serving CES for the first time in a big way.)
Tech has so much potential to infiltrate our daily lives. He mentioned that 400,000 drones were sold in the U.S. this holiday season. He also said 3D printing is allowing companies to serve people in remote areas.
Other ways Shapiro said tech is improving our lives: Half of AirBnB hosts say the extra income from home-sharing allows them to pay their mortgages and stay in their homes. And one in ten Americans are already wearing fitness tracking devices such as smartwatches or step counters.
“Think about our aging society,” Shapiro said. “We need technology to take care of them.”
Sensors and smart apps can combat cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Shapiro said his mother passed away from Alzheimer’s, and he “would have given anything for facial recognition technology that would have helped her.”
Tech will be used by the bad guys, threatening our security and privacy. But it can also be used to fight back against the bad guys, Shapiro said. Security, in fact, is tighter at the show than it has ever been since 9/11. Roller bags and big backpacks are banned.
“We have a bright future in front of us,” he said.