CES Gadget Show Goes Digital

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The Consumer Technology Association decided to give back to the techies this year by hosting its annual expo in their natural habitat – behind a computer screen.

There will be no Google theme-park ride or wall-sized TV displays this time, but the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is live this week in cyberspace.

Full Stream Ahead

CES usually draws a crowd of over 170,000. But the “most influential tech event in the world” has gone digital-only this year for the first time in the show’s 54-year history.

2021 CES kicked off Monday as attendees filed into virtual meeting rooms for keynote speeches, product demos and online elbow-rubbing with tech big-wigs. Aside from TVs that have grown a year bigger, here’s a few highlights so far:

  • If you’ve ever wanted your driving experience to feel more like a video game, Panasonic Automotive has got you covered. The company’s 4K windshield heads-up-display pairs basic info like vehicle speed and fuel range with 3D navigation that visually overlays on the road. It even spotlights bicyclists and other objects you’d prefer not to bump into.
  • Samsung demoed the Bot Handy robot that can use its gripping hands to help with laundry, dishes or even pour a nice glass of wine. Sounds like a great answer to a nagging spouse as long as the tech is ready – dripping merlot on your white carpet might make matters worse.

Addressing the reason this CES was held virtually, UV light sanitizers were a recurring theme and Razer yesterday unveiled a smart mask concept called Project Hazel. Its ventilators double as speakers to clear up any muffled mask-talk and its wireless charging case also sterilizes the unit.

Little Guys Left Out?

CES is typically held in Las Vegas’ Eureka Park, where attendees can roam freely from booth to booth, discovering and testing out new products as they go. While the showroom can turn a “no” idea into a “go”, this year’s virtual-only event could be detrimental to smaller innovators:

  • While last year’s show saw 4,400 exhibitors, coordinators capped this year’s event at 2,000 to ensure the Microsoft-managed online experience was flawless.

The Takeaway: While industry heavyweights like Sony and Intel certainly weren’t dropped off the guest list, it’s safe to assume not every smaller firm is getting a chance to shine online.