Everyone working in tech knows CES. And, while my days packed with grand announcements, on-site briefings, award submissions and product reviews might be in the rearview, I can’t help but keep an eye on the show for the giant new screens, better-than-ever computers, cutting-edge robots and other shiny new objects that will no doubt find their way onto my personal shopping wishlist for the coming year.
The 2023 event, which drew 115K attendees, wrapped over the weekend with all the expected bells and whistles, plus the first-ever unifying theme: “Human Security for All.” Impressive innovations were on display from accessibility tech, electric vehicles and flying cars, to the latest in health and fitness tracking with…toilet-bowl tech. Here are a few things that stood out:
CES Preaches “Human Security for All”
- For the first time in its 56-year run, CES featured an overarching social theme aimed at kicking off a longer-term vision to rally tech industry leaders around solving some of the most pressing global challenges. A number of keynotes and panels were dedicated to discussing this central topic of “Human Security for All,” with representatives from agriculture, education and other sectors coming together to identify ways we can apply technology to address sustainable food production and closing the education divide.
What About 5G?
- 5G has been a staple at CES over the last several years and figured to be again in 2023. While there were plenty of 5G connected devices and phones on display, there was little substance to support the speedy, innovation-driving 5G future we’ve heard so much about. Mike Dano at Light Reading shared his experience looking for 5G at the event – noting the major indication of that purported 5G future came in the form of Verizon and Razer’s cloud gaming device, called “Edge” – but little else was either ready for or able to support 5G. Allison Johnson at The Verge suggested we might just be too tired of hearing about it. (The topic of 5G did drop 14% in coverage volume from Oct. ‘22 to Nov. ‘22, according to our Top Conversations in Tech.)
- Just because the show was back in person doesn’t mean it was back to normal. We all know it’s been a challenging year, especially for hardware manufacturers, who have had to deal with ever-changing supply chains, shifts in consumer behaviors and economic uncertainty. As Dalvin Brown noted in his CES coverage for the Wall Street Journal, startup attendance was lower than in years past, as companies are waiting for more liberal spending and investment environments down the road. Many companies are also refocusing efforts to cater toward older age demographics with more disposable income and areas consumers tend to hold to a higher value during a fragile economy (e.g., healthcare), rather than come to market with the pie-in-the-sky, experimental products we often see on display at CES.
- L’Oreal’s assistive lipstick applicator, HAPTA, and Sony Playstation’s Project Leonardo were two of the more popular items to be showcased at this year’s show. Both are designed to help make everyday activities more accessible to those with limited motor control.
- With the increased interest in reducing emissions it’s no surprise EVs were everywhere, with new concepts and iterations from Peugeot, Stellantis, Sony, BMW (unveiled by Arnold Schwarzenneger) and more. Also present? A nearly $1 million flying car from Aska, and a $400K electric boat from Candela.
- While the show is still dominated by more traditional consumer products, my favorite part is seeing all the unusual new tech that has been dreamt up. On that front, 2023 did not disappoint. We saw the latest in health tracking in the form of in-toilet sensors, a Volkswagen with a light up exterior, addressing the headache of installing a TV wall mount with a new suction cup alternative, LG lockers used to deodorize your stinky shoes, and – for that unique cross section of Twitch fans and bakers – a new oven with internal cameras capable of live streaming your latest culinary creation.
CES might be over, but continue to check back here for updates and recaps from other top conferences in tech throughout the year.