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CES2023 Hits & Misses

CES is back (almost)!

CTA announced that 115K attendees and 3,200 exhibitors showed up at CES2023. This compares to 171K attendees and 4,400 exhibitors in 2020, the last event before COVID-19 upended life as we knew it. So we are about 2/3rds of the way there!

While this is a dramatic improvement from last year, when only 44K showed up in-person, we got the sense that for some of us, business as usual has become entirely virtual. The slowdown in tech might have dampened turnout a bit as well.

This said, we had a very productive show. Here is our take on this year’s hits & misses, first about the show planning and logistics and then about the tech:

✔️ CES app – This year’s app made the show that much more productive – find and sign-up for conference sessions, real-time feedback on these sessions, timely & useful notifications, LinkedIn profiles for speakers, transportation guidance etc.

 Networking – While we had numerous meetings with friends, colleagues, and clients, these were all organized offline. The show still struggles to leverage technology to kindle impromptu conversations with strangers – finding and connecting with relevant attendees and exhibitors. We got a handful of random and irrelevant attendee messages.

✔️ The LVCC Loop – We’d heard others speak about the loop when we were in Vegas for MWCLV2022, but got the opportunity to zip between the West hall and North/Central halls. Almost no waiting – nothing like the cab lines people might be used to in Vegas and was a lifesaver when it came to getting to meetings on time.

Show venue logistics – The South hall was not used and instead there were exhibitors in the Venetian Expo as well as some programming at the Aria – spreading it out and having attendees shuttle from one location to another was unnecessary!

Talking about the exhibitors, tech on display, and content, there were more hits than misses:

✔️ #autotech – There was far less hype about autonomous vehicles than we expected and more about how software and connected technology are making personal mobility more efficient, enjoyable, and environmentally friendly. New EV models, next gen displays – augmented reality display and a tablet replacing the steering wheel (I suppose target customers are Gen Zs), color-changing cars, cars with digital camouflage exterior were all on display. Exhibitors that made the most noise include Stellantis, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Sony, and Volkswagen. More on this in a separate post.

✔️ #accessibility – While some of it was gimmicky and others were not targeted at the mass market, at least not yet, we were thrilled to see numerous products to make communication and mobility more accessible. Glasses that provide live captions for the hearing impaired by Xander, a stair climbing wheelchair by Scewo, albeit priced at $40K, and over-the-counter hearing aids by Jabra caught our attention.

✔️ #satelliteconnectivity – From a panel discussing how LEO constellations are making satellite connectivity significantly more affordable to Qualcomm and Iridium announcing a global, satellite-based texting feature for Android smartphones, it was clear that 2023 will be the year satellite connectivity becomes ubiquitous in consumer devices.

#metaverse – There was far less noise about the metaverse and AR/VR. What we saw was less about consumer gadgets and more about enterprise use cases – We tried on the Lenovo ThinkReality VRX headset and discussed the hardware, platform, and ecosystem that is driving immersive training and collaboration use cases across industries. Peggy Johnson of Magic Leap said during a panel discussion on metaverse that “what’s real is enterprise”!

✔️ #robots – While we did not hear much about chatGPT, the impact of AI on day to day technology was palpable. Smarter and more useful robot concepts were introduced this year – ExactShot, a robot by JohnDeere with sensors that can detect and fertilize individual seeds, Yarbo – a lawn mower, snow blower, and leaf blower all-in-one, Dog-E, a super smart and customizable robot pet all seemed concepts that will see broad adoption.

#smartappliances – There were bigger, flashier, and higher resolution TVs, refrigerators with mood lighting, a shoecare solution from LG and other gimmicky solutions, but we did not see any must-have smart appliances at this year’s show!

Let us know what you saw at the show that we might have missed. Also, if you’d like more detailed perspectives on any of these, reach out to us.

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