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Next week at the CES 2023 trade show in Las Vegas, we’ll once again be able to see and hear about the latest tech trends in person.
Last year’s event also took place in person, but it was a shadow of its former self as the Omicron wave of COVID-19 took its toll. The event only drew about 45,000 last year, far below the 175,212 that showed up in January 2019. This year, they’re expecting around 100,000 people to show up, according to Gary Shapiro, CEO of Consumer Technology Association, the trade group that stages the event.
Last year’s event looked like a ghost town. At least it seemed that way in pictures, as I canceled my trip about a week before the show after everybody else canceled their appointments with me. The same kind of cancellation tsunami hasn’t happened this year.
This year, the show gets underway on Tuesday morning with some virtual sideline events from Nvidia and Acer. I think it’s safe to say we’ll see plenty of new chips and PC gaming rigs announced. The difference this year is that, because of the recession, we can probably expect to buy more of these products sooner than we were able to do so during the shortages of the past couple of years.
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A few thousand press people will start converging on Las Vegas on Tuesday and Wednesday for media events that officially begin with a talk on tech trends by Steve Koenig, vice president of research at the CTA, followed by the opening CES Unveiled press event. If it’s your first time to the show, check out my tips and tricks for CES. On Wednesday, big companies like LG, Panasonic, Samsung, TCL and Sony will have their press conferences where they show off the new products coming this year.
By Thursday, the main show floors will open with nearly 3,000 exhibitors across more than 2.1 million square feet of space, Shapiro said. That’s down from 4,500 exhibitors and 2.9 million square feet in January 2020. But it’s still a sizable show and it runs through Sunday.
And while CES is still a place for the giants like Samsung and Sony, the show will have 1,000 new exhibitors, and it will also have its traditional Eureka Park startup space in the Venetian.
The big trends
Last week, PR Newswire reported that there was a 340% increase in mentions in CES 2023 press releases, with more than 66 mentions in 2022 compared to 2021.
NFT mentions were up 200% to 12, up from four. Sustainability mentions were up 63% to 49, up from 30. Robots were mentioned 49 times, up only 2% from 48 a year ago. The losers? Augmented reality slipped 12% to 30 from 34, and wearable dropped 38% from 88 to 55.
In our interview, Shapiro said we’ll see an “incredibly strong” health tech category. Shapiro expects we’ll see a lot of food tech, like from a company called Suvie, which cooks food while you’re away and is ready when you get home.
Based on the pitches I’m getting, I think we’ll see a lot of tech related to AI, health wearables, energy-saving devices, the internet of things (IoT), sleep care, elder care, mental care, smart cars, robots and virtual reality (think Sony and HTC at the very least).
AI is kind of an invisible product, but its presence will be visible everywhere at the show. Generative AI startups might be arriving on the scene too late to make a big presence at the show, but everyone from big companies to startups will be talking about how AI is fueling a new generation of products.
Embodied, maker of the social interaction robot Moxie, uses interactions enabled by generative AI to help promote social, emotional and cognitive development in children ages five to 10. It is now shipping the robot that it has been showing for a couple of years.
Square Off, a maker of smart chessboards with an adaptive AI, will be back to show off what it can with its partnership with Miko, a consumer robotics company that makes AI robots for kids.
There are a lot of people concerned about the encroachment of AI into our lives. Alice Little, an award-winning legal courtesan currently operating out of the Chicken Ranch brothel near Las Vegas, said in a statement that AI tech will threaten the livelihood of sex workers, who have come to depend on digital experiences such as Only Fans during the pandemic.
She believes these kinds of creator platforms could be significantly hurt by AI, particularly deepfake technology that creates fake images of real people. We’ll see this debate play out in industry after industry.
Smart green vehicles on the rise
AI is also going to get used in the latest vehicles. More than a dozen automakers will be at the show, and they’ll be showing off electric vehicles, assisted driving features and more. John Deere, which has one of the keynote slots for its CEO John May, will show off AI-based tractors that can operate around the clock.
Candela is manufacturing a new electric “flying” C-8 consumer boat. It is an electric vehicle that rides above the waves and is a sibling to Candela’s P-12 electric hydrofoil ferry. Cenntro Electric Group is will unveil five new electric vehicles at CES, including a hydrogen-powered semi and the production version of its iChassis. And as you can see below, we’ll have our share of flying cars again.
Aska will be showing off its first drive-and-fly electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft/car hybrid. It is an electric vehicle that you can drive on the road like a car and fly in the air like a quadrocopter. Is it real? Let’s hope so.
Wherever AI gets mentioned, the metaverse can’t be far behind. And where the metaverse gets mentioned, Web3 will come up as well.
It’s still early and a bit rare to see actual metaverse experiences on display at the show. Source Digital and Sansar announced they will show off a “metaverse experience” on smart TVs, where you can engage in VR-like 2D or 3D experiences from the makers of Sansar, which spun out of Second Life’s Linden Lab and was sold in 2020 to Wookey Projects.
While we may not see a ton of actual metaverse projects at the show, we will hear people talking about it, especially in the visions presented in keynote speeches and panels. In fact, I’m going to moderate a panel at CES on Friday January 6 about how gaming will lead the metaverse. It will take place at 3 pm on Friday January 6 at LVCC North / N262 and feature speakers from Area15, Upland, Holoride and Tilt Five.
With all this talk about the metaverse, Shapiro isn’t so worried that demand for an in-person CES will fall off.
“We’re very optimistic that CES is so important to people around the world — as buyers, investors, suppliers, partners, media, consultants, market analysts — that we expect a strong showing in Las Vegas,” Shapiro said. “But the digital platform will be an important supplement to many of the people going to Las Vegas who are just too busy to get to the conferences or connect with the exhibitors that they want to. That’s what the platform will be for, to serve those people.”
As for blockchain, OpenCarbon is touting its first non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace for carbon credits. The OpenCarbon platform delivers SEC-compliant, carbon offset financial products to efficiently source, construct, manage and retire large-scale and complex carbon asset portfolios.
The internet of things
LG is partnering with Asleep to create smart home appliances that respond to human breathing and diagnose sleep stages to operate at an optimal level. So your air conditioning and heating — and other home appliances — can respond to how you’re sleeping at night.
We’ll see plenty of other examples of the internet of things creeping deeper into our lives. Let’s hope the theme of Ubisoft’s Watchdogs game — that these devices will be used by hackers and governments to spy on us — won’t come true.
You can bet that the internet of things will further infiltrate its way into smart homes, smart buildings and smart whatevers. Artificial intelligence — buoyed by successes in computer vision, neural networks, and machine learning — will be pervasive within these IoT devices.
VR and gaming gear
Sony will take the stage at CES to share details about its PlayStation VR2 headset and the games coming for the device, which debuts on February 22. HTC is expected to make an announcement and a number of other VR headset makers are showing up at CES.
And VR’s platform is always changing. bHaptics’s new TactGlove can be worn like regular gloves. It’s compatible with commercial VR/AR headsets with camera-based hand tracking systems, including Meta Quest 2, and costs $300 per pair. The new haptic gloves have 12 Linear Resonant Actuator-type motors (LRA), which the company says allows delicate and sophisticated feedback at the fingertips and wrists.
Holoride will be at the show again display how you can play virtual reality games in the back seat of a car — without losing your lunch.
On the gaming side, we’ll see LG’s 27-inch OLED gaming monitor and Alienware’s latest 18-inch gaming laptop. Nvidia will likely talk about the GeForce RTX 40-series graphics chips, and AMD will attempt to outdo Nvidia with its own GPUs. MSI will show a flagship gaming laptop Titan GT77 that will feature a 4K/144Hz Mini LED display. You can bet there will be a ton more on display at the show.
Advanced Micro Devices CEO Lisa Su will kick off the show at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday with a keynote speech. So we’re likely to hear about the latest Ryzen and Radeon chips.
As for TVs, some aficionados are hoping to hear more about QD-OLED as the future of cutting-edge TV tech, so it’ll be interesting to see if anyone has anything to add on that front.
Valencell unveiling the first calibration-free, cuffless finger-tip blood pressure monitor. Companies like Omron Healthcare have been whittling away at this kind of problem for years. Dexcom has received clearance from the FDA for its glucose monitor Dexcom 7, which makes it much easier to measure blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.
Withings, a pioneer of connected health, will unveil its first foray into urine analysis with a miniaturized health lab that will change the way people monitor their health from the comfort and privacy of their own bathroom. If this works, you may not have to pee in a cup at the doctor’s office or a lab so much.
While we urinate on average seven times a day, urine analyses are usually performed only once a year when requested by your health professional. Now Withings is making it possible to conduct health assessments from the comfort and privacy of your bathroom on a regular basis.
And I’m expecting to see more solutions than ever that target elderly people and their caregivers, as tech has finally woken up to the demographic trend of the baby boomers get older. Tech isn’t going to be just for the young anymore.
Japan’s Asilla is showing off a security camera that sends you alerts to unusual things happening in real time, like if someone falls on the ground. We can expect to see more of these products, as Synaptics has created fall-detection sensors that use AI to detect if people have fallen and need help.
OneThird, a Dutch food tech company, will show a “ripeness checker” designed for use by grocers or grocery store shoppers. It lets them quickly scan an avocado and get accurate information about when it is ready for consumption – no squeezing necessary.
Apparently we’re not so good at the squeezing part, as one-third of all food produced is wasted due to spoilage – costing upwards of $1 trillion. OneThird’s solution helps end-consumers get the freshest food and allows growers, food distributors and grocers to predict the shelf life of fresh produce.
Typhur will show off its all-in-one smart Sous Vide cooking machine, with cooking classes and recipes from chefs all around the world, including Michelin Star Chefs.
If you’re not into all this new stuff, you can see old stuff too. RCA will be among the retro brands coming to the show, and it will show off home automation, e-bikes, scooters and retro-style electronics. For some of us, that brings back some memories.
Weird uses for new technology
I’ve been pitched some oddball things that I didn’t expect see. For instance, Glüxkind is showing off an AI-powered baby stroller with a motor. It comes with an sleep solution with rock-my-baby, white noise and 360 safety bubble around the stroller. I suppose I shouldn’t call this weird because it could be very useful for its target consumers. But it’s certainly something I didn’t expect see.
Meanwhile, Osim is going to show off its uLove 3 Well-Being Chair, which uses AI to help give you massages. The chair is designed to measure, monitor, and manage stress while giving you a full-body massage.
After picking up a video from your own library or by using a YouTube link, you can add scents on the timeline to set up the perfect smell, timing, and duration for a scent to go with your video.
What’s missing from CES
Some common CES events won’t happen. Nvidia will be doing an online press event, but it won’t be on the show floor. Apple doesn’t exhibit at the show, as it always does its own events. I expect we won’t see as many masks either. But I suggest everybody be extra safe with so many people concentrated in Vegas.
With as many as 71,000 fewer people, I’m certainly hoping for fewer lines and crowds around the popular booths. But like many people, I’m curious what it will be like seeing people face-to-face again at a huge trade show. Hopefully it will feel like we’re all getting back to business.
Tech for the rest of us
I have some hope that there will be some interesting technologies from non-tech companies.
Halio is showing off smart glass. You can put this on windows and building facades to prevent solar heat from cooking everybody inside a building. This reduces a facility’s carbon footprint by limiting energy used for air conditioning or heating. I like how it’s another example of how tech fades into the woodwork of everyday things.
My favorite CES talk about tech from non-tech companies was a few years ago, when Arnold Donald — the CEO of the world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Cruises — unveiled the Ocean Medallion wearable. That was interesting because it was an example of how technology was infiltrating a non-tech business, where the technology faded into the woodwork and the woodwork itself got smart. Carnival is now outfitting its 100-plus cruise ships with the technology.
In recent years, Procter & Gamble has also showed up with cool uses of tech in ordinary products, such as putting sensors and AI into products such as skin advisers, heated razors and more. It will be back this year with more products that promise the same kind of creativity as last year’s products, which included a blemish remover that worked well on my face. I could still use more of that, and I think we could all use tech that makes the current products that we use every day even better.
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