As reported earlier, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) of 2021 was not held live in Las Vegas, thus breaking a decades long tradition. That article discussed the top ten of the 30-plus areas which had from 350 to 660 exhibits each. https://worldindustrialreporter.com/ces-2021-by-the-numbers-3d-4-wheels-5g/
These next ten areas had a smaller, but still sizable number (190 to 300) of virtual booths.
- Fitness and Wearables (300)
- Mobile Hardware and Accessories
- High-Tech Retailing/E-Commerce
- 5G Technologies
- Cloud Computing/Data
- Home Office Hardware and Accessories (190)
While all of these were of interest to the consumer electronics audience, a few stood out as more salient to the business and industrial world due to their immediate or near future implications.
One of the companies pioneering the use of 5G tech is Verizon. Among other things, it will provide
- Augmented Reality/ VR
- Customized views of sports, concerts, museums
- Immersive experiences (go to verizon.com/5Gconcerts/#/home)
5G will also find uses in
- Traffic data solutions (TDS in San Jose, CA)
- Smart cities where ghost robots may save firefighters
- Apps using drones to make deliveries, e.g. the UPS Flight Forward division.
Though there were fewer exhibitors in the following categories, some of them represent emerging products and technologies that will likely impact daily lives, both at work and at home.
Ranked by the number of exhibitors, the 21st to 32nd group of companies were engaged in:
- Sourcing and Manufacturing
- Audio Technologies
- Video Technologies
- Gaming and Esports
- Home Entertainment Hardware
- Marketing and Advertising
- Sports Technology
- Travel and Tourism
While it is no surprise to see telecommunication and chip manufacturing companies at CES, a few recent names have come from the agricultural and travel industries.
For example, John Deere’s use of automation for farmers was showcased at CES the past two years and now has gone further with more sophisticated data analysis and the use of AI.
- Precision planting and monitoring leads to greater yield per acre. And software in machines can determine when they need maintenance.
Similarly, Caterpillar introduced its autonomous mining trucks and groundbreaking technology being used in the most challenging conditions.
In Marketing and Advertising, it is evident just how important new technologies have become.
Despite many more options to choose from online, buying decisions are being made faster. Consumers want to know not only what something looks like, but how it feels. As a consequence, communities such as those on Instagram and Facebook are turned to with greater frequency for their advice.
Purchasing decisions not only depend upon sources such as testimonials, reviews and ratings but also ease of shipping, delivery and return policies. People expect seamless service and companies strive to delight customers with quality, value and even occasional ‘surprises’.
AI is being used to convert online shoppers to buyers and to increase brand loyalty.
Honey is a fairly new PayPal company that helps users to get deals and introduce new brands to the public. It is a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout.
One of the newer categories at CES was Travel and Tourism.
Delta airlines may not be among the names typically associated with consumer electronics. Yet they are using advanced technologies such as AI to enhance the experience of both the casual and the business flyer from the time of booking, through the airport, and all the way to arrival at one’s final destination.
Among other new exhibitors in this area were
- Kotozna, who offered an in-room hotel concierge service
- Port, who produced a series of remote travel guides for those unable to travel abroad during the pandemic
- Koup who introduced a travel shirt that uses recycled polyester infused with cinnamon so that there is no smell in the fabric. The spice naturally prevents bacteria from causing odors.
Oftentimes the most interesting, progressive companies to watch at CES are in emerging fields. As such, they are usually underrepresented among exhibitors. However, at the same time, they are often well represented when it comes to the annual Innovation Awards.
These categories had as few as 13, and up to 77 exhibitors.
- Accessibility (77)
- Digital Imaging and 3D Printing
- Car Audio
- Digital Currency/Cryptocurrency
- Quantum Computing (13)
Digital Imaging and 3D Printing has continued to grow the number of exhibitors as these technologies find new and improved products
- Breezm introduced 3D printed eyeglasses. After a face scan and analysis, a virtual fitting is used to create a custom product at a cost of about $200.
- Scanshop showed how to create ‘3D twins’ at the same time , i.e. one virtual model plus one real one.
Digital Currency/Cryptocurrency had a relatively small presence among exhibitors, yet less than a decade ago, 3D Printing premiered with only about 25 booths. In 2021 it had more than double that number at CES.
The point is that ‘crypto’ is gaining attention and traction, with the likelihood that it too will grow over the next several years. Many new names were exposed to attendees for the first time.
- Some more established companies are beginning to accept Bitcoin as a method of payment, e.g PayPal, Visa, Venmo, Square.
- BUNDIL offers an app that “rounds up” from credit or debit card purchases and invests the spare change in Bitcoin or other currencies. The app also allows a user to simply make crypto purchases directly.
- Coinbase and Cryptoarsenal provide new trading platforms for the purchase and exchange of different digital assets, i.e. cryptocurrencies.
- MakerDAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) plans to offer a ‘stablecoin’ (“dai”) which will be pegged to an established and globally traded asset such as the $US or gold. Its claim is that its value will not gyrate as do many other cryptocurrencies.
The term DeFi economy (Decentralized Finance) was introduced, and clearly there is a need to educate the marketplace about this new ‘asset class’ as well as some of its pioneers, such as
- Avanti Bank and Trust
- Solving for Tech
- Bloq inc
One speaker suggested that the year 2021 for crypto will be like 1849 was for the California gold rush, and that much excitement and speculation would surround this new asset.
In a related area, contactless payments with either credit cards or smartphones have been accelerating, perhaps boosted by the covid pandemic and desire to avoid touching people or machines.
Blockchain has become increasingly well known because of how it applies to crypto. But it is also important in supply chains across many industries. The ability to authenticate transactions and track product movement on a global basis will create even more opportunities and participants in the next few years.
Many products introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show become mainstream over the next few years. It will be quite interesting to see which CES product categories grow the fastest by 2022’s annual show.