LAS VEGAS — CES 2024 officially opened Jan. 9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and early indications are that the show is back to its pre-pandemic size and scope.
The concourse was packed an hour before the show floor opened at 10 a.m., and walking through Central Hall that morning was a lot like moving through Times Square on a Friday night — except there was even more neon and flash.
Big consumer electronics mainstays such as Sony, Panasonic and Samsung battled it out with relative newcomers such as Hisense and TCL for the vaunted show floor “wow” factor, with the former touting its AI-enabled line of massive television sets and the latter capitalizing on its NFL partnership by bringing in such football legends as Bo Jackson and Brian Bosworth to sign autographs and snap photos with guests.
As expected, the big buzz this year is around AI — not so much to replace the human touch but to embellish it.
The Consumer Technology Association, which produces CES, said there are more than 4,000 exhibitors and expects more than 130,000 attendees, a significant jump from last year. Exhibitors this year, according to the CTA, including a record number of startups in Eureka Park, a dedicated area for breakthrough technology.
“At CES 2024, we’re thrilled to bring together exhibitors, attendees and media to display and dream up the technology of tomorrow, and the innovations that are solving today’s greatest challenges,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA. “CES is where business and policy converge.”
During the CTA’s State of the Industry Address on the morning of Jan. 9, Shapiro recognized the 100th anniversary of CTA and underscored the importance of technology that can enhance human capabilities to address issues such as access to clean air and water, food, healthcare, and technology.
CES Media Days on Jan. 7 and 8 at Mandalay Bay featured 23 press conferences, including presentations by Hyundai, Hisense and the UHD Alliance. CES Unveiled Las Vegas, a preview of the products launching at CES 2024, featured technology from 180 companies ranging from Palmplug’s Theraplay virtual reality game, which helps rehabilitate stroke patients, to Xpeng AEROHT’s flying car.
“Unveiled Las Vegas is such a great way to kick off CES each year and to get a sneak peek into some of the early trends at the show, and it was no surprise to see AI everywhere amid diverse offerings across accessibility, digital health, food tech, mobility and smart home,” said Kinsey Fabrizio, CTA’s SVP of CES and membership.
CTA’s director of thematic programs, Brian Comiskey, and director of research, Jessica Boothe, presented 2024’s Top Tech Trends to Watch. This year’s presentations showcased how AI, sustainability and inclusive tech design will advance tomorrow’s technologies such as mobility, digital health, content, gaming and agrifood tech. Underpinning these trends and evolution in the industry is the rise of Gen Z as a sizable and influential segment, especially in emerging market nations where they’re rapidly connecting to the internet to shape worldwide trends. In turn, innovation in both the consumer and the enterprise will advance to a more intelligent, greener, and more inclusive tomorrow.
In addition to more than 250 conference sessions and the Innovation Policy Summit for global policymakers, CTA on Jan. 9 launched the Consumer Technology Circularity Initiative (CTCI), a voluntary industry initiative to reduce waste, encourage more reuse, enhance recycling, reduce climate impact, and see less disposal of consumer electronics. Founding partners include Lenovo, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony Electronics Inc.
LAS VEGAS — CES 2023 opens today (Jan. 5) at the Las Vegas Convention Center amid much speculation as to what final attendance figures will be, given the fact that this is the first show in three years to be relatively unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021 event was held virtually, and last year’s CES came amid a winter COVID surge that saw the show scaled back by one day and impose mandatory mask and social-distancing restrictions. Attendance numbered just over 45,000 people, compared to 170,000 for the 2020 show, while the number of exhibitors fell by more than half the record high of 4,400 set in January 2020, prompting the closure of the South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
This year, CES has no restrictions of any kind, and before the show’s opening the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which produces the annual event, said the show’s footprint will be 50% bigger than the January 2022 CES. The CTA said there would be at least 2,400 exhibitors, 1,000 of them newcomers, and set an attendee goal of 100,000.
In late November, CTA president and CEO Gary Shapiro in a statement said he’s “thrilled with the show’s momentum.”
Over the next four days, we’ll see how it all plays out.
For the first time ever, CES has a theme: how technology is addressing the world’s biggest challenges. The show’s legacy consumer electronics focus has long ago taken a back seat to mobile tech, health tech and smart homes, while home entertainment — remember the days when most of the talk was about the latest DVD players and 3D Blu-ray devices? — is limited to a handful of streamers and dozens of service providers that hope to do business with them.
According to the CTA, the automotive sector is bigger than ever, making CES one of the largest auto shows in the world, with nearly 300 exhibitors in West Hall. Global launches and keynotes from BMW and Stellantis lead into exhibits featuring the latest in self-driving tech, electric vehicles and personal mobility devices for land, air and sea.
Digital health also remains big, with exhibitors showcasing advancements in digital therapeutics, mental wellness, women’s health tech and telemedicine. CTA’s Digital Health Studio, presented by The American College of Emergency Physicians, is presenting the latest in technology for diagnostic and treatment functions as well as the importance of remote connectivity for accessible healthcare. Key exhibitors include Abbott, LOTTE Healthcare, MedWand Solutions and Omron Healthcare.
On the sustainability front, global brands such as John Deere, LG, Samsung and Siemens are showing how innovation can conserve energy and increase power generation, create more sustainable agricultural systems, power smart cities, and support access to clean water.
And for the first time, CES 2023 has a dedicated Metaverse area on the show floor. Exhibitors are showcasing groundbreaking sensory technology building immersive, interactive digital worlds. A Web3 Studio, produced by CoinDesk, is the focal point of the Web3, Metaverse and Blockchain area at CES.
The CTA also announced that in partnership with the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, it is supporting the global campaign Human Security for All (HS4A). The HS4A campaign serves to cultivate collaboration and innovation across all industries, all countries, to improve the human experience.
“CES is the world’s most exciting technology event, from startups in Eureka Park to global brands on the main stages. We are thrilled to spotlight thousands of innovative companies at this year’s show,” said Shapiro. “Tech advances are helping to solve the world’s greatest challenges, and CES 2023 will set the agenda for the year ahead.”
Domestic spending on consumer electronics and related technology is projected to reach $485 billion in 2023, according to analysis from the Consumer Technology Association. While the tally is below the record $512 billion consumers spent in 2021 at the height of the pandemic, it remains $50 billion above pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Spending categories include consumer electronics, gaming, video and audio streaming apps, automotive technology, fitness and health devices, among others.
“The technology industry is a deflationary force in the global economy,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, said in a statement ahead of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “The constantly evolving nature of technology leads industries to find newer, more-efficient ways to drive commerce. CES has become the destination for innovators who are making business more efficient and improving our quality of life in industries like agriculture, transportation, health and so many more.”
The trade group has lowered sales projections for laptops, LCD TVs, tablets, smartphones and video game consoles, while the OLED TV is expected to see sales increases (up $2.3 billion) as manufacturers push the enhanced products. As previously reported, portable game consoles should see a 41% uptick in consumer spending to $1.5 billion, from $1.06 billion.
Shapiro contends lawmakers in Washington, D.C., can help American entrepreneurs by advocating for a proactive and pro-innovation approach to trade.
“We need to eliminate tariffs that amount to taxes on U.S. businesses, and spur exports by striking new trade deals with our friends and allies,” he said.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
LAS VEGAS — It was a hectic Tuesday here in Las Vegas, where the pace of preparing for a downsized CES 2022 picked up as the day wore on.
Walking around the Las Vegas Convention Center just before 5 p.m., it seemed as though a dress rehearsal for the show was going on. Parking attendants, shuttle bus drivers and security personnel were all at their stations, and even the traditional hot dog and barbecue food trucks were positioned in place, in that L-shaped plaza outside the main show entrance between the North and Central Halls.
Show signage also was up, including a huge vertical billboard — the physical world’s answer to website “skyscraper” ads, you might say — from Roku, proclaiming itself “America’s #1 streaming platform in the U.S.”
Indicative of the show’s increasing tilt toward digital health, just a few feet in front of the Roku banner was one for Abbott, touting its sensor technology, “helping 3.5 million people with diabetes live with greater confidence & freedom.”
It almost seemed a little nostalgic to see two huge building wraps for Sony and Samsung, two consumer electronics heavyweights who have maintained their highly visible CES presence for years and years.
At each entrance, safety protocols are clearly explained, and prominently displayed. Badges must be picked up before entering any of the buildings, and to pick up your badge you need to show proof of your vaccine status. Visitors also are advised that they need to wear face masks, and encouraged to social distance, wash their hands frequently and stay the hell out of Dodge — my words — if they feel sick.
As for me, after working away during the morning, returning emails and phone calls and jotting down some thoughts for our big 25th anniversary of digital entertainment project later this year, I spent the afternoon writing up news releases pertaining to CES 2022 that bombarded my inbox.
(Actually, now that my memory is cleared after a delicious meal at the Sahara’s marquee restaurant, the Noodle Den, that was editor in chief Stephanie Prange and senior news editor Erik Gruenwedel. But I kept up with what they were posting on my iPhone while on a six-mile hike at Red Rock Canyon.)
I can certainly see Gary Shapiro’s point when he says the show must go on. Shapiro, of course, is the CEO and president of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), producer of CES — and he’s come under fire for allowing the show to proceed despite the surge in COVID-19 cases and fears, by some, that CES could become a super-spreader event.
Speaking yesterday afternoon on the Fox Business Network’s “The Claman Countdown,” he talked of the show’s critically important role in furthering technology and innovation, particularly among startups.
But he also addressed the symbolic importance of CES 2022 proceeding, insisting that he and his team have done everything in their power to keep everyone safe.
“We’ve done everything we’re supposed to,” he said. “We’ve relied on medical experts. We were the first big event to say everyone must be vaccinated. … Now, let me tell you. … Millions of people go to sporting events around the United States every week. They’re not required to be vaccinated. They’re not required to be masked. And they certainly don’t test. So we’re doing all three of those. … We’ve also taken all sorts of other safety protocols, from limiting seats in conference rooms, requiring social distancing, new types of ventilation, much, much wider aisles — one-way aisles, often. So we’ve done everything we possibly can.”
He added, “Look, it’s time to get back to normal. … It’s important that business stay and continue the course and we go forward. We have to stop staying in our homes and start living again.”
We know several major companies have reduced their physical presence at CES 2022, and we understand their concerns. They want to protect their employees from COVID-19 and the risk of having to quarantine in Las Vegas. Our staff raised this issue with me, and I told employees that anyone with concerns would not be required to travel to Las Vegas.
At CTA, we believe passionately that innovation and technology will make a better world and solve some of the biggest problems in health, energy, mobility, the environment (clean air and clean water) and more. CES is the world’s largest innovation event and we have thousands of people coming from around the world to see and show products that will make life better. We just heard from the Netherlands delegation about entrepreneurs eager to come to the show, as well as business people from France and Africa looking forward to the many innovations at CES. In addition to thousands of entrepreneurs, AARP is running a start-up contest for products serving seniors and the winners of the Global Women’s HealthTech awards — an awards program developed by CTA and The World Bank — will showcase innovations aimed at improving women’s health in emerging markets.
I first joined the CTA after serving as a consultant, going to a CTA board meeting and hearing the then board chairman (who represented our largest exhibitor) guide a discussion on whether to raise the cost of CES. I will never forget his guidance: we must always run CES for the sake of entrepreneurs with new ideas. The show allows them to present to potential investors, partners, buyers, media and others who will give them feedback, offer investment or even acquire them. That is an article of faith at our association.
Innovation can come from anywhere and anybody, and we must respect and encourage that. This conviction informs all of our public policy positions, and the major tech companies — almost all of whom are our members — respect CTA for always looking out for smaller companies. Indeed, at CES and even as members of CTA, over 80% of our membership is smaller companies. At CES, we promote the newest entrepreneurs with a huge, subsidized section of the show, Eureka Park, where hundreds of start ups from around the world get to connect and thrive or learn and adjust. Many of these founders tap out their credit cards just to get to Las Vegas, and while we subsidize their space, we know that the exposure of CES can make or break them. These companies and these founders are the ones I think when I say it’s not time to pull the plug on CES 2022.
Ask Robbi Cabral, Founder and CEO of BenjiLock, an immigrant who lost his job while his wife was pregnant. Robbie talks frequently about how Eureka Park transformed his company from an idea to an enterprise. Or ask Aswhin Navin, CEO of Samba TV, who had a small booth in Eureka Park several years ago and has now filed for an IPO.
CES will and must go on. It will have many more small companies than large ones. It may have big gaps on the show floor. Certainly, it will be different from previous years. It may be messy. But innovation is messy. It is risky and uncomfortable. I view CES as representing the best of our unique American history — a place where those who are different and have big ideas can gather. Where success is not based on class or religion or anything but the strength of an idea.
CES 2022 attendees will see a spaceship created by Eren Ozmen, the co-owner of Sierra Nevada Corp. Eren and her husband Fatih, immigrants from Turkey, built this business that now shuttles goods to space. Attendees will also see a robotic kitchen that makes complete meals and hundreds of other products by innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world.
As we look to CES 2022, we confront a tough choice. If we cancel the show, we will hurt thousands of smaller companies, entrepreneurs and innovators who have made investments in building their exhibits and are counting on CES for their business, inspiration and future. If we do not cancel, we face the drumbeat of press and other critics who tell the story only through their lens of drama and big name companies.
We are mindful of concerns that CES could be an event where the Omicron variant can spread. We are leading the way in requiring masks and vaccines, recommending testing and offering free tests. No one wants to get sick. We respect that some do not want to take the risk involved in travel to Las Vegas, even in the vaccinated bubble of CES. But with significant safety measures and fewer people, there is plenty of space for attendees to socially distance. We have consulted with experts, both medical and analytical, and have been advised that with our health and safety protocols infections should be minimal.
I will feel safer at CES with our vaccine and masking mandate than I do when I’m running every day errands, including food shopping! In fact, our consultants concluded CES would have no measurable effect on Las Vegas and its ability to deal with any new spike in COVID-19.
We are also working with leading health experts in the state of Nevada who support the best practices we have put in place, and followed the recommendations of an outside event medical consulting group who assured us our precautions way exceeded the norm. Below is a statement from Dr. Tony Slonim, president and CEO CEO of Renown Health in Reno, Nev.:
“With the recent climate, many people have been working remotely and creating virtual relationships. That’s okay, the work gets done, but for me, nothing is better than meeting in person,” says Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, FACHE, president and CEO of Renown Health in Reno, NV, one of the nation’s most innovative and progressive health systems. “CES 2022 brings together progressive thinkers and energetic pioneers who are passionate about bringing technology to the world and improving lives. That has never been more important than it is today. The good news is we are now more prepared than ever to keep people safe, which is the top priority for CES. I am impressed that the Consumer Technology Association, our hotels, the [Las Vegas] conference venues and the City of Las Vegas have worked diligently to put every contemporary safety practice in place to ensure a healthy and successful in-person meeting this year. I encourage you to join me in attending CES 2022, adhering to the requirements, building new relationships, and supporting the innovators, professions and industries integral to our future.”
We also benefit from the wisdom of one of our Board members, Jim Mault, a prestigious doctor and entrepreneur and former chief medical officer of Qualcomm. Jim also started and heads BioIntelliSense a start-up CES exhibitor and maker of wearable technology for monitoring discharged patients or seeing temperature differentials indicating the onset of COVID-19. As Jim put it:
“As a volunteer CTA leader, physician, entrepreneur, CES exhibitor and heading a company relevant to fighting Covid, I appreciate the extraordinary CES health and safety measures. I look forward to CES.”
The bottom line is that we are living in uncertain times. We have spent some 20 months surviving — thanks to vaccines, the medical community and technology — in a virtual world. But as every CEO knows, we are humans. We need each other and we especially need each other for innovation to thrive!
Let’s face it head on — we survived but we need to live. For those who are vaccinated and willing to take the minor risk of Omicron and a quarantine, CES may be worth it. For those who have a dream of using innovation to build a better world, we will be in Las Vegas bringing thousands of entrepreneurs together eager to make those connections and discoveries. For those who can’t make it to Las Vegas, we will stream many of the key presentations and give every exhibitor, including those who recently canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, the no-cost opportunity to extend their CES presence globally.
It’s time we return to making the world better, rather than living in fear. Earlier this week, President Biden asked Americans to vaccinate, wear masks, test for COVID — and stop closing schools and businesses. I agree. CES 2022 will kick off 2022 messy, but it will be chock full of innovation and full of entrepreneurs and businesses. We will all be taking risks. But without risk there is no innovation.
For those who don’t attend, we respect your decision, we encourage you to join us digitally, and we hope to see you at CES in 2023. For those who are coming, we can’t wait to see you in Vegas!
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the trade group that produces the annual CES.
After a flurry of high-profile exhibitors such as Google, Microsoft, Meta (Facebook), Intel and TikTok dropped out of CES 2022 last week over Omicron variant concerns, show organizers nevertheless vowed to press on with an in-person event in Las Vegas.
In a press release issued three days before Christmas, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) reiterated its intent to proceed with the show, scheduled for Jan. 5-8 in Las Vegas, despite what it said were 42 exhibitor cancellations.
Since then, there’s been no further communication from the CTA, leading to widespread speculation that plans are still in flux. The latest daily email briefing from VPO/PR Newswire’s dedicated online press page for CES, issued late Sunday, Dec. 26, had just two press releases from exhibitors. And on social media, particularly Twitter, calls for the CTA to cancel the show appear to be mounting, with #cancelCES an increasingly popular hashtag.
In a Dec. 22 news release, CTA said the show will proceed as scheduled “with strong safety measures in place, and our digital access is also available for people that don’t wish to, or can’t travel to Las Vegas. Our mission remains to convene the industry and give those who cannot attend in person the ability to experience the magic of CES digitally.
“While we recently received 42 exhibitor cancelations (less than 7% of our exhibit floor), since last Friday we’ve added 60 new exhibitors for our in person event. Registrations for both our digital access and our Las Vegas event are continuing to show strong momentum, with thousands more registrations in the last few days. … We have increased our official count to over 2,200 exhibitors. …
“Given CES’s comprehensive health measures — vaccination requirement, masking and availability of COVID-19 tests — coupled with lower attendance and social distancing measures, we are confident that attendees and exhibitors can have a socially distanced but worthwhile and productive event in Las Vegas, as well as a rewarding experience on our digital access.”
CES went virtual in January 2021, but as a winter COVID-19 surge began to ebb and movie theaters and other businesses began to reopen, the CTA on April 28 announced CES 2022 would once again be held in person in Las Vegas in January 2022.
At the time, CTA president and CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement, “We’re thrilled to return to Las Vegas — home to CES for more than 40 years — and look forward to seeing many new and returning faces. Hundreds of executives have told us how much they need CES to meet new and existing customers, find partners, reach media and discover innovation.”
Several media outlets, including TechCrunch and The Verge, also have said they will not send reporters to the show. Media Play News editors still plan on attending.
Organizers of the Pepcom Digital Experience, held in concert with CES at the Mirage hotel, announced they are also still planning an in-person event — though they plan to add a live-streaming presentation.
“Happily, most of you have told us you can still attend,” read an email. “But for those who cannot, we will be streaming the event live from 7-10 p.m. PT on Jan. 4.”
Speaking on the recent Media Institute’s Virtual Communications Forum, Shapiro discussed how limiting freedom of expression online will affect user-generated comments and reviews, small businesses and startups.
The Media Institute is a non-partisan organization focusing on the First Amendment and communications policy.
“Members of both political parties want to make Internet platforms responsible for user generated comments and reviews,” Shapiro said. “This is akin to making hotel owners responsible for guest behavior. Creating this liability given the huge amount of postings would severely crimp the value of these services and lead to an onslaught of opportunistic trial lawyer lawsuits.”
Instead, Shapiro called on government to provide “clear and reasonable” guardrails that give American companies legal certainty. The executive said tech and social media companies must be willing to “correct, accept and avoid infringing on IP, and defaming and slandering others.”
“This means having a process in place to correct or remove postings once platforms learn of legitimate and clear challenges,” Shapiro said. “We should encourage U.S. internet platforms to be more transparent about their content moderation decisions and give people more control over what they see on their feeds.”
The CEO called for collaboration between policymakers and innovators.
“We must move from less productive debates on shutting-off speech to more productive discussions,” Shapiro said.
The annual CES kicks off today (Jan. 11) online instead of in Las Vegas due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Gone are the 170,000 attendees who interacted in person with more than 4,500 exhibitors at the consumer electronics showcase in 2020.
This year, the virtual CES will feature about 2,000 vendors, including those targeting home entertainment with the newest high-definition televisions (QLED, MicroLED, 4K and 8K) to consumers largely homebound for their video entertainment.
To accommodate online attendees, CES is affording registered viewers the ability to remotely access vendors via “digital activations” that enable them to interact with company reps and related show materials. CES will again showcase keynote speakers and roundtable discussions — all online.
“CES 2021 will be making history, with our first all-digital show,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association said in a statement. “This new experience will feature exhibitors from around the world, showcasing the latest trends and innovation in artificial intelligence, 5G, digital health, smart cities, vehicle tech and beyond. Technology will move us forward and CES 2021 will illustrate how innovation paves the way for a brighter tomorrow.”
Shapiro said COVID-19 has underscored the need for consumer electronics and innovation without increased government regulation.
“We’re able to work and learn remotely thanks to high-speed internet, video conferencing tools and affordable laptops,” Shapiro wrote. “The pandemic has sped our embrace of technology — for work, school, health, entertainment, connecting with loved ones — and spurred innovation around the globe.”
CTA estimates that 40% of U.S. workers are doing so from home, while 90% of school children are being educated outside the classroom during the pandemic.
Shapiro said consumer technology enhancing work and entertainment in the home will “help us be human again with other humans as they ensure crowd-friendly spaces and entertainment zones.” He lauded major content players such as WarnerMedia for taking the landmark step streaming movies into homes at the same time they arrive in theaters.
At the same time Shapiro is calling on the new 117th U.S. Congress to take a “fresh look” at immigration reform, with an emphasis on high-skilled immigration policy. He said 80% of immigrants are likely to start a business in the U.S.
“The incoming Biden administration can also help our competitiveness by stabilizing trade relationships and promoting our crown jewel companies and world-leading startup ecosystem,” Shapiro wrote. “This includes a fact-based look at Section 230, the cornerstone of free speech online, and ensuring it continues to provide protections to companies both large and small.”
Section 230 is legislation passed into law as part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. In the current political climate, Section 230 provides immunity to social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter against being sued regarding content on their site. The companies say they can better self-moderate content and government regulators.
Some lawmakers, including President Trump, say Section 230 enables tech companies and social media platforms to censor political content.
Shapiro said the Biden Administration should help to promote clarity and provide “rational and clear guardrails” within which companies can operate, while at the same time enabling U.S. companies to be more competitive globally.
“American tech companies are the envy of the world,” Shapiro wrote. “China is spending billions to catch and surpass our nation’s most innovative companies. Europe targets our tech companies with protectionist rules. If we implement rules restricting flexibility or creating new barriers to entrepreneurship and innovation, we will bolster the efforts of competitor nations.”