The world’s largest technology and consumer electronics show, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), opens Thursday in Las Vegas, Nevada, with hopes of a revival after two difficult years marked by the pandemic.
Here are five key issues to watch through Sunday.
Three years ago, the high-profile event in Las Vegas drew more than 117,000 visitors, weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed part of the planet.
In 2021, there were only 40,000 left to attend a hybrid version of CES, amid a tidal wave of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that had forced many people to stay at home.
“It’s a great feeling to see people reunite after two or three dark years,” said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which is organizing this huge gathering in the middle of the desert.
Organizers hope to gather more than 100,000 attendees for this vintage of CES, an event whose first edition dates back to 1967, in New York at the time.
The car is gaining momentum
The automotive sector will dominate this year, with nearly 300 exhibitors from the industry gathered in a dedicated showroom, including presentations from Stellantis, BMW and the presence of Honda executives.
“This year, you’ll almost feel like you’re at an auto show,” says Accenture’s Kevan Yalowitz.
The automobile’s technological acceleration now makes CES an obvious destination, amid the loss of momentum of the Detroit show, which was suspended for three years before a smaller-scale restart last September.
Even if the arrival of fully autonomous cars seems further away than initially expected, a good number of innovations presented this year aim to replace the driver with software.
New features include the ability to update vehicle management software remotely, such as from a computer or smart device.
These programs can “change the vehicle’s operating parameters instantly and identify problems that can be fixed without the driver even realizing,” says Yalowitz.
The metaverse ascends
Last year, CES was dominated by the idea that virtual reality, accessible with a headset, was the future of the Internet.
But the enthusiasm ran out of steam, weighed down by the bad year of Meta (formerly Facebook), considered the locomotive of the metaverse. The group from Menlo Park (California) is still struggling to convince users to take the plunge, despite colossal investments.
Metaverse “isn’t a mainstream category yet,” says Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies.
Virtual worlds will still be in the spotlight this year. Several companies and speakers will thus show the possible applications of these parallel universes.
The Connected Revolution
Connected devices have been gaining momentum for nearly a decade, but the market remains highly fragmented, with dozens of manufacturers and many competing standards and benchmarks.
Under the auspices of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), more than 550 companies have collaborated to define a common protocol, which experts see as a revolution.
With the new standard, called Matter, the first version of which was launched in October, it will now be possible to buy a device from almost any brand and connect it to your existing home ecosystem, regardless of whether it is powered by Alexa of Amazon or Google’s Nest Apps.
“Several products have already received their certification of compliance with this new standard, and there will be many more in the corridors of CES,” announced Avi Greengart, of Techsponential.
“We’ll see Matter devices synced to (entry) doorbells, vacuum cleaners and more,” the analyst adds.
The topic of climate change has been a major theme at CES for several years, even if dedicated events attract less public attention than the latest electronics.
This week, green technology will have its own exhibition space, a sign of the organizers’ desire to give more visibility to the subject.