Five things to watch at CES, the technology show in Las Vegas

Meropy’s SentiV autonomous agricultural robot. Many of the innovations introduced this year aim to replace the driver with software. (Photo: Getty Images)

Las Vegas. The world’s largest trade show for technology and consumer electronics, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens Thursday in Las Vegas, Nevada, with hopes of a resurgence after two years of difficult times marked by the pandemic.

Here are five key questions to keep an eye on until Sunday.

What size?

Three years ago, a mass Mass in Las Vegas drew more than 117,000 attendees, weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed part of the planet.

Just 40,000 people are left to attend the hybrid version of CES in 2021, amid a tidal wave of the Omicron coronavirus variant that has prompted many people to stay at home.

“It’s a great feeling to see people reunite after two or three dark years,” said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which is organizing this great rally in the middle of the desert.

Organizers hope to gather over 100,000 attendees at this vintage CES show, an event whose first edition dates back to 1967 in New York City.

The car picks up speed

The automotive sector will dominate this year, with around 300 exhibitors from the industry gathered in a dedicated showroom, including presentations by Stellantis, BMW and the presence of Honda executives.

“This year you will almost feel like you are at a car show,” says Kevan Yalovitz, head of software and platforms at Accenture.

The technological acceleration of the car now makes CES an obvious destination amid the loss of momentum of the Detroit show, suspended for three years before restarting on a smaller scale last September.

Even if the advent of fully autonomous cars seems more distant than originally thought, much of the innovation introduced this year is aimed at replacing the driver with software.

Among the novelties is the ability to update the vehicle control software remotely, for example, from a computer or smartphone.

These programs can “instantly change the vehicle’s operating parameters, identifying problems that can be fixed without the driver even knowing it,” says Yalowitz.

Metaverse clings

Last year, CES was dominated by the idea that headset-assisted virtual reality is the future of the web.

But the enthusiasm has dried up, weighed down by the bad year of the Meta (ex-Facebook), considered the powerhouse of the metaverse. The Menlo Park, Calif. group is still trying to convince users to take the risk, despite a huge investment.

The metaverse “isn’t a core category yet,” says Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies.

Virtual worlds will continue to be honored this year. Thus, several companies and speakers will demonstrate the possible applications of these parallel universes.

Bound revolution

Connected devices have been gaining momentum for nearly a decade now, but the market remains very fragmented, with dozens of manufacturers and many competing standards and standards.

Under the auspices of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), more than 550 companies have come together to define a common protocol in what experts call a revolution.

Thanks to a new standard called Matter, which first launched in October, it will now be possible to buy a device from virtually any brand and connect it to your existing home ecosystem, whether powered by Amazon Alexa or the Google Nest app.

“Some products have already received ‘this new standard’ certification, and there will be many more in the CES aisles,” announces Techsponential’s Avi Gringart.

“We will see Matter devices synchronized with doorbells (entrances), vacuum cleaners and others,” adds the analyst.

green technologies

The topic of climate change has been the main theme of CES for several years, even if the events devoted to it attract less public attention than the latest electronic gadgets.

Green tech will have its own exhibition space this week, showing the organizers’ desire to make this theme more visible.

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