CES 2023 Opens Today in Las Vegas Amid Speculation on How Big the Show Will Be

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.

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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.” 

CES 2021: Expanding Digital Reach, Limiting Physical Contact

This much is (sorta) for sure: the Consumer Technology Association’s annual CES confab is slated for early January in Las Vegas as it has been for decades. In 2020 more than 175,000 industry professionals, including more than 61,000 from outside the U.S., convened in Vegas to drive the ever-evolving global technology industry forward. The 2021 show is slated for Jan. 6-9.

But in the COVID-19 era, experiencing overhyped CE products like a sardine in a can could be a recipe for disaster. With CE tech enabling millions of people to work and be entertained in the home, so too can learning about the newest QLED 8K television.

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“We will showcase our exhibitors’ products, technology breakthroughs and ideas to the world, both physically in Las Vegas and digitally,” CTA said in a statement. “You can expect to see a wider selection of livestreamed CES content, along with many other engaging digital and virtual opportunities, enabling you to connect with the world’s leading technology innovators, thought leaders and policymakers.”

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How much of that connection will be done in person remains to be seen. While business as usual is a priority for CTA and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, both trade groups have implemented new policies to safeguard attendees and workers from the threat of the coronavirus.

Cleanliness and sanitization will be first and foremost a priority across the show venues to better enable social distancing, including widening aisles in many exhibit areas and providing more space between seats in conference programs and other areas where attendees congregate. Attendees and exhibitors will be encouraged to wear masks and avoid shaking hands.

CTA said it plans to limit touch points throughout the facilities, including through cashless systems for purchases and transactions. It is also considering employing contactless thermal scans at key venue entry points, in addition to providing enhanced on-site access to health service and medical aid.

“We will highlight technologies … for some of the day-to-day challenges created by the pandemic,” CTA said. “We believe events such as CES that bring thought leaders and innovators together to solve these challenges will be more important than ever.”