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CES: The Online Experience

Trend Forecasting with CTE at a Socially Distanced CES

By Laura Kobylecky

CES is a yearly technology trade show and conference, owned and operated by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Last year, it snuck in under the wire, on January 7-10th in Las Vegas, before 2020’s wave of coronavirus-related cancelations. This year, like many other conferences, it happens in an online-only format.

The event features a combination of video and some interactive elements. When you log into the website, you are greeted by a short video, explaining the basic functions of the website and accompanied by a jaunty little melody. The Exhibitor showcases begin on Tuesday, January 12. On Monday the 11th there are live videos available.   Closed-captioning is one of the bonuses of the digital experience.

This year, like many other conferences CES happens in an online-only format Click To Tweet

One of these live videos is the “CTA’s Tech Trends Live Q&A,” with Steve Koenig, VP of research, and Lesley Rorhbaugh, director of research for CTA.

When asked about what technologies they find exciting for this year, Rorhbaugh mentions that smartphone technology interests her. Koenig mentions Mercedes Benz new high-tech MBUX dashboard.

When asked about expectations for smart glasses, Koenig expresses enthusiasm. Saying “this is definitely the year for AR. He emphasizes that the future maybe be found in “discrete solutions” and “degrees of immersion.” The discretion can be found in wearables that you can wear “all of the time.” These sorts of glasses won’t look out of place in the day-to-day.

The “degrees of immersion” can be found by moving past the segmented world of VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), and MR (mixed reality). Really, these terms describe only how much the “virtual” has replaced or overlaid the “real” world. With this sort of easy-wear wearable, more easily integrated in the day to day, the level of immersion is not perfectly defined and might vary based on your personal usage.

This is definitely the year for AR Click To Tweet Lesley Rorhbaugh CES 2021 Virtual Conference Tech Trends
Koenig mentions how a doctor could possibly pull up patient records with their “hands freed up.” This makes the devices particularly useful in a touch-resistant world and allows more space to “socially distance.”

Rorhbaugh is excited about voice technology. She envisions this as something that could help in-vehicle tech, particularly autonomous vehicles. From her perspective “safety plays a really key role” in that sector and voice technology might contribute to that.

In regard to another hot topic, remote learning, Koenig is optimistic to an extent. He believes in the positive side of “extending opportunities” and feels that universities may “lean into these spaces.” In a “post-crisis” world they will have “manifold options” to continue using this technology to their benefit. He believes that some of the current “friction” in the online learning world will be improved when the world is not in a “panicked rush online.”

Koenig believes that 5G networks will become significant in the near and distant future. He believes they will reach “dense urban areas first.” After that “we’ll be talking about this at CES’s in the next few years, how 5 g is just gonna really overlay the entire global economy.”

5G networks will become significant in the near and distant future Click To Tweet

Steve Koenig CES Virtual Conference 2021 Tech Trends

The CTE trend forecasting session at CES is a bright take on a complicated year Click To Tweet

Televisions are another subject of optimism. In Koenig’s opinion, “there’s always something next for TV at CES.” Unfortunately, CES 2021 will require a bit more imagination than years past. There’s really no way to judge the crystal clear realism of a TV when it’s viewed through the window of another screen. But Koenig remains positive that these “massive, massive, TVs” being showcased will delight the public. With 4K and HDR being standard fare at the moment he believes that “we’ll see more 8k displays” and even greater resolution. He also thinks there will be more competition in the “OLED” (organic light-emitting diode) space.

In his opinion, smart TV is another thing that “continues to get better and better.” Touch-less technology will allow greater and simpler command and control. He also has believes AI applications will learn our viewing patterns and enhance the viewing experience as they “serve up content to us.”

There's always something next for TV at CES Click To Tweet

Other ideas mentioned in this session are smart masks, data dashboards, smart filtration systems, and emergency alert systems that create a more connected world or leverage the Internet of Things.

The CTE trend forecasting session at CES is a bright take on a complicated year. These ideas may serve as inspiration for those curious about what’s new and next for the world of consumer technology in 2021.

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Laura Kobylecky is a contributing writer to Tech Trends. She is particularly interested in new and emerging technology and culture. Connect with her on LinkedIn