Gary Shapiro: Five Takeaways From CES 2022

CES 2022 was unlike any show we’ve hosted in our 55-year history. 

As we prepared our return to Las Vegas for the first in-person CES in two years, we could feel the momentum and excitement building in the consumer tech community. Hundreds of companies signed on to exhibit, even after the emergence of the Omicron variant around Thanksgiving. We were confident in the strong health protocols we’d put in place, including a vaccination requirement announced in the summer of 2021, masking requirements and free Abbott BiNAX Now rapid tests that would be made available to attendees.

Gary Shapiro

Months of planning by CTA staff and consultants meant that we were ready to put on a show, but we couldn’t be certain our guests would arrive. A few big-brand companies withdrew from in-person participation, but many more reached out to tell us just how much they wanted the show to go forward.

Thousands of companies rely on CES to pitch new, innovative and life-changing technologies. After an all-digital show in 2021, this was an opportunity for them to make connections and build the relationships that are so critical to business success.

We also listened to President Biden’s Dec. 21 call for schools and businesses to remain open — with precautions in place — which seemed a strong message that business should continue. That encouragement, along with advice from various expert consultants, supported our decision to move ahead with an in-person show.

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Opening day demonstrated the strong excitement and desire by so many to convene again in person. More than 2,300 exhibitors showcased incredible innovation on the show floor, joined by over 40,000 industry executives and thought leaders. We knew this year’s CES would be messy, and it was no surprise to see some gaps on the show floor. But by the time we wrapped on Friday, it was clear that even a smaller show punched well above its weight.

Here are my key takeaways from CES 2022:

People Have Different Views on Pandemic Precautions

This statement won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but we watched it play out in real time as we organized CES 2022. We lost some exhibitors over the summer when we announced our vaccine requirement, though several executives thanked me for pushing their CES-loving employees to get vaccinated. We lost some attendees in December over health and safety concerns surrounding the Omicron variant, especially those from the worst-hit coastal cities and COVID-cautious countries. Given the uncertainty of the pandemic throughout our planning process, we decided to meet people where they were by investing further in our digital event for those who could not, or chose not to, travel to Las Vegas. That decision paid dividends in our enhanced capacity to capture content and make it available to attendees virtually both during and after the event.

 

Companies Rely on CES — Especially Startups, Small and Mid-Size Companies

I wasn’t completely sure what to expect at CES, but I was shocked by the nearly universal excitement and enthusiasm. I did not receive one complaint during the show, and the 100+ exhibitors I spoke to all expressed their gratitude for our decision to go forward with CES. Many small and mid-sized companies use CES to connect with customers, partners, investors and media. While our attendee numbers were down, exhibitors reported the quality of participants, especially CXOs and international, was strong. In fact, the decision by some big companies to withdraw from the show created new opportunities to shine for many of our startups and small companies.

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As an executive from one large multinational corporation put it, “this was the show of small and medium-sized companies.” Another executive from a smaller company emphasized the important role CES plays for innovators trying to “break-into the industry.”

 

International Attendees and Media Flocked to CES

This was perhaps my biggest surprise. Over 14,000 international visitors came to CES 2022, along with over 600 members of the international media. I am not sure the U.S. has had any event in the last two years with this type of showing. Those are some 14,000 people who were willing to undergo extra testing and challenging travel requirements because they recognized that CES presents such a unique opportunity. As one international participant put it, “CES 2022: inspiring. We had all been more or less hesitant to come to Vegas despite the pandemic. … I issued and canceled several plane tickets before flying. In the end, we were rewarded. [CES 2022 was the] edition that will serve as a reference for other world events in the coming months.”

 

We Need Leadership and Real Life Experiences

I heard from executives of companies big and small thanking me for taking a stand. They recognize the importance of getting back to in-person interactions where relationships can be fostered, investments made and new products discovered. While I’ll be the first to praise the tech companies who made virtual meetings and workplace collaboration possible in the early stages of the pandemic, it can’t replace the value and importance of face-to-face conversations.

Ultimately, COVID will be with us for some time, and we have to find ways to live with that reality. Several CEOs made precisely that point to me in commending CTA on our leadership in hosting an in-person CES. As one wrote to me, “It is not easy making the decisions you are making and I wanted to lend my support. You are taking all the right measures to ensure everyone’s safety as best as you can to greatly reduce risk. … For what it’s worth, I personally believe that if we don’t start moving to some level of what it was like, we will be doing damage that can’t be measured in charts and graphs.”

Leadership requires taking a stand and our stand resonated with many business executives across multiple industries.

 

Innovation is Blossoming and Changing the World

Since our last gathering in Las Vegas in 2020 the world has changed, and tech has evolved along with it — especially in areas like health care, mobility, food and entertainment. The pandemic accelerated many existing trends, pushing us towards telehealth services and streaming and increased reliance on artificial intelligence. We’ve seen breakthroughs in robotics, delivery, and the virtual reality. In the home entertainment sector alone, CES 2022 introduced new trends in audio, such as Noveto’s “invisible headphones” that beam audio directly into your ears; video and display, such as Sony’s Bravia Cam that optimizes TV picture quality and brightness; and virtual and artificial reality tech that can bring live events and sports to the metaverse and into homes via smartphones and VR headsets.

Despite our time apart, innovation has not stopped. Instead, it appears to have sped up, spurred by entrepreneurs from around the globe who have committed their expertise and know-how to solving some of the world’s biggest challenges. After walking the show floor this year, I’m more optimistic than ever in the capacity of innovation and technology to change millions of lives for the better.

I can’t wait for CES 2023 — and hope to see you there!

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the trade group that produces the annual CES.

CES 2022 Gets Underway With Revamped Floor Plan and Masked Attendees

LAS VEGAS — CES 2022 got underway the morning of Jan. 5 with a smaller floor plan, social distancing measures implemented by several large exhibitors, and a surprisingly large crowd of attendees, all of them masked.

And while the show has been shifting away from its legacy consumer electronics and toward innovation in such fields as mobility, digital health and space tech, CE manufacturers at CES 2022 continue to have the biggest booths and most elaborate displays.

LG Electronics commanded the marquee position in the Central Hall, but is using its space this year for a vast corkboard platform with little stations where visitors can get presentations on their iPhones, including a history of the CE giant’s signature OLED Experience exhibits, which in the past have seen screens arranged in waterfall, tunnel and canyon settings. Several visitors, however, reported that the virtual experiences either didn’t work or were too complicated, since they involved downloading and installing an app.

The LG Electronics booth at CES 2022

The Panasonic booth devoted half its space to a socially distant seating area, as did the Sony booth, where the focus this year is on two electric-vehicle prototypes the company hopes to build as it ventures into the automotive sector. Sony says it plans on establishing a car unit to enter the EV market. One of the vehicles the company is displaying at CES is a seven-set sport-utility vehicle with all-wheel drive.

Somewhat inexplicably, Sony also has a big display for the PlayStation 5, even though the device is still in short supply at retail.

Sony’s PS5 display in its booth at CES 2022

Several other big CE exhibitors, including TCL and Hisense, set up booths virtually identical to the ones they fielded in the pre-COVID days. 

The one commonality among CE exhibitors: Touting the advantages of their favored backlight technologies, OLED, QLED, and Mini-LED, the latter being the newest and hottest trend in TV displays.

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All are variations of LED, an acronym for light-emitting diode. LEDs are the tiny elements of a TV screen that light up in order to produce an image on an LED TV. LED technology became commonplace more than a decade ago after improvements in the technology spearheaded by Samsung.

OLED stands for organic LED, with each pixel made of a material that glows when it receives electricity. The electroluminescent materials used in OLED screens are organic compounds of carbon and other ingredients. OLED is emissive, with the pixels emitting their own light.

QLED is a Samsung technology introduced in 2015. The Q stands for “Quantum Dot.” It’s essentially a variation of LED and is transmissive, relying on an LED backlight.

The newest backlight technology is Mini-LED, similar to QLED, just with even smaller backlights. Mini-LED is a bridge between the older QLED technology and the newer OLED tech, with the same deep blacks that OLED promises.

Samsung has updated the Neo QLED technology that it bowed at last year’s virtual CES to improve the picture quality, but the Korean CE giant also is showing off its new line of Micro LED displays, which boast 25-million LED arrays and come in 89-inch, 101-inch, and 110-inch models.

Sony has QD-OLED, which combines OLED and quantum dot technologies for what it purports is the best of both worlds.

Meanwhile, Hisense and TCL both boast some Mini-LED models.

CES 2022 touched down in Las Vegas as the show’s producer, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), projects the consumer technology industry will generate more than $505 billion in retail sales revenue, a record high that’s up nearly 3% from 2021. The CTA attributes much of the gain to growing demand for smartphones, automotive tech, health devices and streaming services will help propel much of the projected revenue.

Despite a rash of last-minute cancellations due to the surge of the Omicron COVID variant, CES 2022 has more than 2,300 exhibitors, including more than 800 startups. Once again, the focus is not on legacy consumer electronics but, rather, on “the latest transformative technologies, including vehicle technology, artificial intelligence, digital health and smart home tech, as well as new categories: NFTs, food tech and space tech,” CTA said in a Jan. 5 press release.
 
The CES exhibit floor will be open through Jan. 7, a shorter run due to COVID concerns.

CES Diary, Day 3: Opening Day, at Last!

Ever since I arrived in Las Vegas on Monday, I’ve been curious as to how CES 2022 would turn out. The COVID curse led to calls for cancellations, but the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which produces the annual show, vowed to press ahead, albeit with strict health protocols. 

I walked to the show from my $32 room at the Sahara, an easy mile-long stroll along Paradise Road. Nearing the venue, everything seemed business as usual. A fast walker, I passed by at least a dozen other show-goers, easily identified by their badges (around their necks) and dark sport coats. I also saw a caravan of taxis heading toward the show. And just before I got to Convention Center Drive, I saw that the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott was charging $30 for “event parking” just as they always do.

Approaching the entrance, the crowd seemed a little light, but not by much. I went through security and entered the concourse. On one side were bins of show dailies; on the other, a rack with free masks and stickers: green, yellow and red. Over the three bins — one for each color — was a sign that read, “Please use a sticker to show others how you prefer to engage.” Green stickers implied “I’m okay with handshakes”; yellow stickers, “I’m okay with elbow and fist bumps”; and red stickers, “No touching. I’m happy just to wave hello.”

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I chose red — not so much because of COVID but because I’ve long felt that handshakes were an antiquated form of greeting (show me your hand so I know you’re not carrying a weapon!), while fist and elbow bumps are just silly. I also grabbed a couple of extra masks, since the one I was wearing smelled a bit like the chorizo chilaquiles I had just had for breakfast at the Sahara.

Entering the Central Hall, I at first thought LG Electronics, whose exhibit was front and center, hadn’t yet set anything up. There before me was a vast corkboard floor, sprinkled with little stations with QVC codes. I soon realized that LG was attempting to bridge the physical and virtual worlds by offering visitors a series of virtual presentations right there on the physical show floor, from a press conference to CES Innovation Award wins to a history of the company’s signature, and immersive, OLED Experiences at past CES shows, including the 2017 tunnel, the 2018 canyon, the 2019 waterfall and the 2020 wave.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me, neither figuratively (come on, corkboards?) nor literally (who’s got time to download an app and then follow a bunch of instructions to get video footage from earlier shows — isn’t that what YouTube is for?).

The rest of the show floor demonstrated CTA’s commitment to health protocols, such as wider aisles, some of them with one-way arrows, and social distancing. The arrows were disregarded by most attendees; social distancing was hit or miss. Some of the biggest exhibitors, including Sony, Panasonic and Samsung, set aside a good-sized chunk of their exhibit space for open areas with wide-apart seating. Others, including Hisense and TCL, had no discernible changes to their booths from prior years.

The big buzz on the home entertainment front was Mini-LED TVs, which everyone seemed to have. I also noticed quite a few CE companies were targeting specific groups with their TVs, including Hisense and TCL, both of which showed off TVs specifically geared toward gamers.

Early in the morning, our editor in chief, Stephanie Prange, challenged me to find a single 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

Fail.

 

CES Panel: Opportunity Abounds With Entertainment-Related NFTs

Some of the hot terms at CES 2022 are crypto, blockchain and NFTs (non-fungible tokens or one-of-a-kind digital assets).

In the entertainment space, NFTs are digital collectibles stored on a blockchain that can be everything from artwork to GIFs to social experiences to video content such as movies.

Speakers Jan. 5 on the “Creator Economy in the Context of Crypto” panel at CES discussed the opportunities in the space.

“From a Fox perspective, we see this as the future of media, a future form of content distribution,” said Scott Greenberg, CEO of Blockchain Creative Labs. The business and creative unit was launched last year by Fox Entertainment and its animation arm Bento Box Entertainment (“Bob’s Burgers,” “The Great North”) to provide content creators, IP owners and advertising partners end-to-end blockchain computer ecosystem solutions to build, launch, manage and sell NFT content and experiences, and fungible tokens, as well as digital goods and assets. Blockchain Creative Labs launched NFTs with Fox’s popular show “The Masked Singer.”

Scott Greenberg

“We’re also looking at launching TV shows this way,” he said, noting the upcoming launch of “Krapopolis,” created by Dan Harmon (“Rick and Morty”), will be the first ever animated series curated entirely on the blockchain. The series will have a dedicated marketplace that will curate and sell digital goods, ranging from NFTs of one-of-a-kind character and background art and GIFs to tokens that provide exclusive social experiences to engage and reward superfans.

Scott Zanghellini

Also on the panel was Scott Zanghellini, head of new revenue at WWE, which has partnered with Blockchain Creative Labs. Last April, WWE launched its first NFT with drops (releases of unique digital products) around its star The Undertaker. WWE followed up this summer with a drop for star John Cena. He noted that the WWE knows what its fans like via engagement at events, on social media, on YouTube and at other contact points.

“In terms of … putting out NFTs, we also know what the fan wants,” he said.

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Zanghellini said the WWE is looking to use its talent, its “super sauce,” to educate consumers who may not be as sophisticated or familiar with NFTs as early adopters.

“We can have the superstars of WWE explain to their fans, the way John Madden explained football … how to buy an NFT, how to engage, why it’s a value,” Greenberg added.

Blockchain Creative Labs is looking at a wide range of distribution models.

“We think there’s a huge opportunity for television shows and movies to be financed and distributed using Web 3 and the blockchain,” he said.

CES 2022 Opens as Scaled-Down, Shorter Event

LAS VEGAS — CES 2022 officially opens on Jan. 5 with a smaller footprint and a shorter run, three days instead of the usual four.

The culprit: The surge in COVID-19 cases, which the week before Christmas saw 42 exhibitors opt for a virtual rather than a physical presence, including such heavyweights as Amazon, AT&T, Google, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Meta (Facebook) and T-Mobile. 

Speaking on the eve of the show on the Fox Business Network’s “The Claman Countdown,” CTA CEO and president Gary Shapiro provided an update on the exhibitor count, which after a record high of 4,400 in January 2020 was expected to fall by more than half, prompting the closure of the South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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“I’m pleased to share with you now the new number, which is actually an expanded number,” Shapiro said. “A few weeks ago we were saying 1,700, now we’re over 2,300 exhibitors. They keep signing up; we’ve had lots in November and lots in December. And why is that? Because this is one place a lot of companies rely on each year to get their message out and they really didn’t have that in 2021. You know, there’s been a huge amount of investment in startups lately.”

Shapiro said he and his team decided to proceed with the physical show because “companies rely on it. Last night we had our CES Unveiled, [with] hundreds of startups out there and other companies. And I was overwhelmed by the number of people just thanking me. Saying, look — with tears in their eyes — we wait for this all year. Please go forward.

“Plus we heard from the countries that are sending people and companies for the first time from Eastern Europe, from Asia. Korea has a record number of startups coming, France has a huge number, Netherlands has a record, Italy has a record. All over the world, they’re coming, converging on Las Vegas in a reasonably safe way to see what they could do for the year because that’s what innovation is about.

“Now, this show will be a little messy, we know that. But innovation is messy.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is the show’s increasing focus on technology and innovation instead of its legacy consumer electronics. This shift was affirmed in November 2015 when organizers changed their name to the Consumer Technology Association from the Consumer Electronics Association. 

During the CTA’s 2022 Tech Trends to Watch presentation, one of two media-only events held prior to the show’s opening, CTA VP of research Steve Koenig said the big trends to watch, and the focus of this year’s CES, are transportation (from electric vehicles to micro-mobility); space tech; sustainable technology; and digital health.

Similarly, among the new products on display at CES Unveiled, the annual media preview held right after the tech trends presentation on Jan. 3, were a smart mirror from Baracoda Daily Health that includes personal health data and makeup tutorials; the Megane X virtual reality, from Panasonic subsidiary Shiftall, for metaverse experiences; the VTOL Platform drone from VETAL, with 4G and 5G capability; and a home urine test kit from Vivoo that provides users with personalized nutrition and lifestyle advice.

Speaking on the Fox Business Network, Shapiro noted, “We’re seeing lots of new things and new categories created almost overnight. … In space, we’ve seen some tremendous developments. We’ll see a space plane — it’s a big part of the show — as well as food technology. The metaverse is, obviously, huge.

“There’s over 100 health-related technology exhibitors. And we have the automobile areas — one of the biggest footprints we’ve ever had. Smart homes, robotics, you name it.”

In addition to the two Jan. 3 media-only events, the first CES 2022 keynote was delivered by top Samsung executive Jong-Hee Han, vice chairman, CEO and head of Samsung Electronics’ DX (Device eXperience) Division.

Held under the theme, “Together for Tomorrow,” the keynote showcased sustainability efforts and demonstrated customized and connected experiences Samsung says can enrich people’s lives.

Last week, CTA announced the show will close one day early, “as an additional safety measure to the current  health protocols that have been put in place for CES.”

Those protocols include requiring all attendees to be fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO), and to provide proof of their vaccination status prior to picking up their badges. 

In addition, masks are required at all indoor CES events, including the show floor, and on shuttle buses. The CTA has “safety ambassadors” stationed throughout the exhibit floor, handing out masks to those who may need one.

In addition, the CTA is encouraging all attendees to take a COVID test prior to arriving in Las Vegas. The CTA is distributing complimentary Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Self Test kits, provided by Abbott, to each attendee upon retrieving their badge. The CTA also will provide testing for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms while at a CES venue, and will distribute free RT-PCR tests for attendees who are traveling back to their international destination and who require a test to travel. 

Samsung’s CES 2022 Keynote Speaker Exhorts Industry to Move Toward Sustainable Innovation

LAS VEGAS — CES 2022 keynote speaker J.H. Han of Samsung Electronics encouraged the technology industry to make innovative products “in harmony with our planet to create a more sustainable world.” After a montage of COVID-19 images, he noted that in “challenging times” the world has always found a way forward.

Speaking in-person Jan. 4 at the show in Las Vegas, the vice chairman, CEO and head of the DX (device experience) division outlined several steps Samsung has taken to move toward sustainability.

Last year, the company’s Carbon Trust-certified memory chips helped reduce carbon emissions by nearly 700,000 tons, he said, and Samsung’s visual display business plans to use 30 times more recycled plastics than it did in 2021, as well as expand its use of recycled materials to include all mobile products and home appliances over the next three years.

“Last year all of our TV boxes included recyclable materials,” Han noted.

In 2022, the company will be expanding the use of recycled material to include interior packaging as well, he said, incorporating it into Styrofoam, box holders and plastic bags. The company also announced the global expansion of its Eco-Packaging program, which transforms cardboard boxes into cat houses, side tables, and other furniture items, to include packaging for home appliances such as vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens and air purifiers.

Saving energy and reducing the use of batteries is also a goal of the company, which introduced enhancements to its SolarCell Remote, which eliminates battery waste with a built-in solar panel that can be charged both day and night. The enhanced SolarCell Remote gets electricity from radio frequencies in devices such as Wi-Fi routers.

“It will be included in more Samsung products — like new Samsung TVs and home appliances — with the goal of eliminating more than 200 million batteries from landfills,” Han said. “When you line them up, it is the distance from right here, Las Vegas, to Korea.”

Samsung plans to make SolarCell Remote technology open source so that other companies can utilize it.

By 2025, Samsung plans to make all of its TVs and phone chargers operate on near-zero standby power, so that the products will consume almost no energy when not being used.

Through collaboration with Patagonia, Samsung is working on washing machines that sift microplastics from fabrics, such as fleece that the clothing company makes. Microplastics wash into the ocean and harm the environment.

“This is a serious problem, and not one we can solve on our own,” Vincent Stanley, director of philosophy at Patagonia, said in a video presentation.

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As far as new gadgets, Samsung introduced The Freestyle,” a lightweight and portable projector that offers a “cinema-quality experience no matter where you are,” according to Georgina Vhas Tordoff, of the company’s Future Generation Lab. It features AI-enabled sound, built-in streaming apps and Smart TV accessibility features. The Freestyle can be set up virtually anywhere, weighs less than two pounds, toggles 180 degrees, offers 360 degree sound and projects up to 100 inches, she said.

The company also highlighted its new “Samsung Gaming Hub,” which offers an all-in-one platform for discovering and playing cloud and console games and is set to launch on the company’s 2022 Smart TVs and monitors, as well as its new “Odyssey Ark,” a 55-inch, flexible and curved gaming screen.

The company also announced innovations for the connected home with the Samsung Home Hub, integrating devices in the home, which will be built into 2022 TVs, Smart Monitors and Family Hub refrigerators.

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Samsung used the opening keynote presentation to announce its role as a founding member of the Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA), which brings together various smart home appliance manufacturers, including Trane Technologies, GE, Electrolux and American Standard, to make connected devices from different manufacturers compatible and safe.

“As a global coalition of smart home appliance manufacturers, HCA members share a belief that connected ecosystems and digital technology will allow us to further develop product experiences that are elegant, hyper-personalized, and truly smart for our consumers,” said Katherine Shin, VP of customer experience at Trane Technologies. “The HCA invites any global manufacturers with a similar vision for efficiency, interoperability and innovation to come and build with us.”

The goals of the group are interoperability (to offer consumers more choices among brands), safety and data security, and increased energy efficiency.

CES Diary, Day 1: A Sense of Obligation

LAS VEGAS — What if they held a CES and nobody came?

Those were my initial thoughts Monday morning as I doubled up on vitamins and immune boosters — and made sure I had a box of masks and enough hand sanitizer to bathe in — before hitting the road for CES 2022 in Las Vegas.

Last year’s CES went virtual, but this year was supposed to be the grand comeback for the annual technology extravaganza, which in January 2020, just before COVID-19 hit, had drawn more than 170,000 attendees and 4,400 exhibitors.

Then, along with our Thanksgiving turkeys, came Omicron, which within weeks triggered an unprecedented surge in virus cases and, in several European countries, led to draconian lockdowns the likes of which we haven’t seen since that terrible spring of 2020.

A rash of high-profile cancellations followed, amid cries for CES to once again go virtual. But Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), insisted the show could proceed safely, given the strict health measures CTA had instituted — including requiring all attendees and exhibitors to be fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID just before the show’s start. The CTA also shortened the show by a day.

Arriving at the Mandalay Bay for Media Day, a preview open only to the press, I was a bit surprised to see that except for everyone wearing masks, it was pretty much business as usual. The opening research session, “CES 2022 Tech Trends to Watch,” was nearly as packed as it has been in the past, while the CES Unveiled exhibit hall, too, was crawling with journalists. The most noticeable difference was the traditional hors d’oeuvres buffet was behind plexiglass and there were servers, who tended to scowl when journalists asked for, say, a whole plate full of mini-Wellingtons and eight ahi cups.

I almost didn’t come. My hesitancy, however, had nothing to do with COVID or Omicron — rather, it was in recognition of the fact that CES has become increasingly irrelevant to us and our home entertainment readers, as the show in recent years shifted away from its legacy consumer electronics and toward innovative high-tech gadgetry. This shift is reflected in the name change of the parent organization from the Consumer Electronics Association to the Consumer Technology Association in November 2015.  I can remember when the big buzz at CES was 4K Ultra HD and, before that, Blu-ray Disc versus HD DVD and, earlier, the arrival of DVD. Now, as CTA research chief Steve Koenig said in the Monday afternoon research session, the big trends to watch, and the focus of this year’s CES, is on transportation (from electric vehicles to micro-mobility); space tech; sustainable technology; and digital health.

CTA CEO Gary Shapiro being interviewed on the floor of CES Unveiled.

And so it was that at CES Unveiled I saw such interesting innovations as Chess Up, a connected chessboard; Prinker, which bills itself as “the world’s first digital temporary tattoo device”; Vivoo, maker of “at-home urine test strips for personalized nutrition and lifestyle advice”; Quantum Operation Inc.’s “non-invasive blood glucose sensor”; Archelis’ “novel exoskeleton suit,” a strap-on device that reduces back and lower-leg strain while sitting or standing; Toraru’s Genchi, a crowdsourced local experience and on-demand remote agent service that allows users to explore the world from the comfort of their own office (“the requestor will be able to go anywhere as long as he has a browser,” the company says; and Morari Medical’s premature ejaculation treatment, marketed under the slogan “Ready, set, slow. Creating the future of climax control for men.”

So why did I come? In large part, because of the same concerns over COVID that drove large media outlets like TechCrunch and The Verge to withdraw from the show. As a journalist I was curious about how CES 2022 would turn out, given such a large number of defections, and I felt it was my duty as a journalist to report on the show, not run away and hide. Journalists, after all, have a mandate to tell you what’s happening, and why, regardless of how difficult or uncomfortable it might be. And as I write this column on my iPhone in the Tangiers lounge at the Sahara Hotel before retiring to my $32 a night room (our parent company, JCH Media Inc., is very frugal), I’m glad I came.

It’s my job.

Hisense Showcases $5,999 8K Laser Smart TV at CES

In the rush to introduce the next biggest TV screen, 8K format screens have become a prerequisite. Chinese consumer electronics giant Hisense is set to bow a 120-inch 8K TriChroma Cinema Laser Smart TV later this year, which includes an eye-popping $5,999 price tag.

The CES showstopper features Dolby Vision IQ, QLED Quantum Dot Color, HDMI 2.1 inputs (ideal for gaming), well as Hisense’s proprietary VIDAA operating system, which affords users access to third-party streaming apps such as Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Tubi, among other streaming services. The VIDAA Smartphone app doubles as a TV remote.

Last month, Hisense announced the availability of its first branded 8K U800GR Roku TV. Certified by the 8K Association, the U800GR Series TV model claims to deliver 33 million pixels and four times more depth and clarity than a 4KTV. The 75-inch U800GR is available for $2,699.99 at Amazon and BestBuy.com.

Hisense is also showcasing “less expensive” UHD, ULED and Mini-LED TVs at CES through Jan. 7 in Las Vegas.

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CTA at CES 2022: Consumers Are Leveling Up Their Tech

The pandemic has accelerated technology adoption, especially in the home, said Steve Koenig, VP of research at the Consumer Technology Association.

“Consumers have been leveling up their tech,” he said during the CES 2022 Tech Trends to Watch presentation Jan. 3.

4K Ultra HD TV penetration has grown from 36% of U.S. households in 2020 to 52% in 2021, according to CTA data. Smart TVs have expanded to 71% of U.S. households from 65%.

Services are also in the spotlight, he said. Spending on video streaming services is expected to reach $47 billion in 2022, up 7% over 2021, according to CTA research.

“Services have become really important to the industry, but I would say important in all caps to the consumer,” Koenig said.

Citing the millions of subscribers who have flocked to Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and Apple TV+, he said, “Consumers’ zeal and enthusiasm for these services is illustrated by some of these global numbers.”

He cited research that found the average consumer is subscribed to eight services.

As for the overall technology market, demand remains strong around the world, he said.

In the United States, the CTA forecasts that the tech industry will grow to $505 billion, up 2.8% from $491 billion in 2021. U.S. software/services spending grew 11.4% in 2021 and is projected to grow 6% in 2022. Hardware spending grew 9% in 2021 and is projected to grow 1.8% in 2022.

Some of the key trends being showcased as CES 2022 include artificial intelligence and 5G, which is “gonna provide the connective tissue for a lot of innovation in this decade,” he said.

As for the buzzword in tech at the moment, “the metaverse,” he said, “The metaverse is closer than you think.”

He said all the components are available.

“It’s really just assembling them,” he said. This next-generation, immersive version of the internet will become “inextricably linked with our physical reality,” he said.

Attendees will see the “first steps of the metaverse” at CES 2022, he said.

“It’s one of these trends that we’ll be talking about for the next 20 years,” he said.

Research Firm GfK Cancels CES In-Person Presentation

Citing “an abundance of caution” due to escalating coronavirus variant infections nationwide, technology research firm GfK North America Dec. 30 announced it would forego its scheduled in-person presentation at the CES Research Summit next week (Jan. 5-8) in Las Vegas.

Instead, GfK said it would share the same tech insights on “techno mobility” via an interactive “learning session” on Jan. 27. Interested parties can sign up for the GfK virtual session at this link.

The AP reports that new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. have soared to their highest level on record at over 265,000 per day on average, a surge driven largely by the highly contagious omicron variant.

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