The latest leaps in artificial intelligence (AI) in everything from cars, robots to appliances are to be on full display at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opening on Thursday in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to go virtual in 2021 and hybrid last year, tens of thousands of show-goers are hoping for a return to packed halls and rapid-fire dealmaking that were long the hallmark of the annual gadget extravaganza.
“In 2022, it was a shadow of itself — empty halls, no meetings in hotel rooms,” Techspotential analyst Avi Greengart told reporters. “Now, [we expect] crowds, trouble getting around and meetings behind closed doors — which is what a trade show is all about.”
The CES show officially opens on Thursday, but companies would begin to vie for the spotlight with the latest tech wizardry as early as today.
CES is to be spread over more than 7 hectares, from the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center to pavilions set up in parking lots. Ballrooms and banquet rooms across the city are to be used to hustle up business.
With transportation computing’s new frontier, next-generation autos, trucks, boats, farm equipment and even flying machines are expected to grab attention, analysts have said.
“It’s going to feel almost like you’re at an auto show,” Accenture Ltd head of platform strategy Kevan Yalowitz said.
More than ever, cars now come with operating systems so much like a smartphone or laptop computer, Accenture expects that by 2040 about 40 percent of vehicles on the road would need software updated remotely.
With connected vehicles come apps and online entertainment as developers battle to grab passenger attention with streaming or shopping services on board.
Electric vehicles enhanced with artificial intelligence would also be on display “in a big way,” Greengart said.
“What has really been the buzz is personalized flying machines,” independent tech analyst Rob Enderle said. “Basically, they are human-carrying drones.”
Led by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Platforms Inc, immersive virtual worlds referred to as the metaverse are seen by some as the future of the ever-evolving Internet, despite widespread criticism that the billionaire CEO is over-investing in an unproven sector.
After being a major theme at CES last year, virtual reality headgear aimed at transporting people to the metaverse are expected to again to figure prominently.
Formerly known as Facebook, Meta would be allowing selected guests to try its latest Oculus Quest virtual-reality headset, trying to persuade doubters that the company’s pivot to the metaverse was the right one.
Gadgets or services pitched as being part of the next generation of the Internet — or “Web 3” — are also expected to include mixed-reality gear as well as blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens.
Web 3 promises a more decentralized Internet where tech giants, big business or governments no longer hold all the keys to life online.
“The idea of how we are going to connect is going to be part of the big trend at CES,” Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said.
Analysts had expected cryptocurrencies to be touted among Web 3 innovations at the show, but there “could be pullback” because of the implosion of cryptocurrency platform FTX and arrest of its boss, Sam Bankman-Fried, Milanesi said.
CES offerings would likely show effects of the pandemic, as products designed during a time of lockdowns and remote work would be heading for market even if lifestyles are returning to pre-pandemic habits, Greengart said.
Tech designed to better assess health and connect remotely with care providers would also be strong at CES.
Although the show is unabashedly devoted to consumerism, the environment would also be a theme from gadgets designed to scoop trash from waterways to apps that help people cut down on energy use.
A lot of companies are eliminating plastic from packaging and shifting to biodegradable materials, while also trying to reduce carbon emissions, analysts have said.
“If you are the kind of person who is off the grid growing vegetables, then CES is not for you,” Greengart said. “But, I do commend companies that find ways to make their products and the supply chain more sustainable.”
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