Each year, reporters, exhibitors and investors typically explore Las Vegas showrooms filled with giant TVs, smart cars and robots fixing martinis, but CES will be online only for the first time in its 54-year history due to Covid-19.
The Consumer Electronics Association, the nonprofit behind the four-day event starting Monday, said 1,800 exhibitors from around the world will fill its “digital venue” this year — a number that’s down significantly from 4,000 in-person exhibitors last year. The move will allow tech companies from countries who’ve never attended before to take part in the online spectacle, but could also make it harder for smaller companies to get noticed without a physical showroom booth to stumble upon.
It’ll lack some of the signature ingredients of the trade show, such as hands-on time with the latest gadgets, demos and networking. But the technology that makes our lives more connected and convenient will still resonate as we continue to navigate a global pandemic. CNN Business will be tracking all the big announcements and then some.
5G will dominate discussions at CES 2021 much as it did last year.
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg will kick off the show with a keynote focused on what the company has learned from rolling out its 5G network and tease its future plans. And Anne Chow, the CEO of AT&T Business, is expected to do the same in a breakout session. (WarnerMedia, the parent company of CNN, is owned by AT&T.)
5G is here in many of our biggest products, including the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones, but it certainly has not reached what’s believed to be its potential yet. These announcements may offer a roadmap for how it gets there.
Health gadgets, fitness equipment and wearables have long been popular at CES, but the category will be supersized this year, both because of an increase in demand from the pandemic and the industry gradually moving in this direction even before.
“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, research director at market intelligence firm IDC. “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.”
Last year’s move to online-everything — telehealth, working from home, remote learning, streaming — will be a main talking point at CES, but so will tech’s role to better support those changes.
With millions of people staying home, companies are hoping they’ll add more smart devices and systems into living rooms, kitchens and elsewhere. Beyond products like smart refrigerators and washers, appliances such as robot vacuum cleaners and air filters may get smarter with voice integration.