CES on CES 2021 – did a virtual show work?

CES on CES 2021

Given that COVID-19 precluded a massive super-spreading event we bring you ‘CES on CES 2021’. Was it successful? What does it mean to future CES formats?

The first-ever, all-digital CES 2021 website here made history as the largest digital tech event. Almost 2000 companies unveiled next-gen innovation for a better future. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the all-digital CES 2021 featured product launches from start-ups to tech giants, keynotes from global industry leaders, live entertainment from Hollywood and more than 100 hours of conference programming.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA, said.

“The all-digital CES 2021 engaged the global tech community to experience innovation, make connections and conduct business. CES showed how the pandemic accelerated innovation and illustrated our industry’s resilience and innovative spirit. From the latest innovations for the home and entertainment, and advances in 5G, vehicle technology, AI and digital health, the technologies at CES 2021 will pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.”

Interestingly many keynotes address common themes where tech was both the problem and the solution

Tech Innovation Accelerated by COVID-19

Tech companies innovated during the pandemic, with companies at CES 2021 featuring smart masks, disinfecting robots, body sensors that detect COVID-19 symptoms and smart air filtration systems.

Consumer Privacy and Trust

The heads of privacy at Amazon, Google and Twitter discussed new privacy regulations and the need to increase consumer trust, stating that tech companies must give users more control over their data.

Global Tech Challenge

The Global Tech Challenge, in partnership with the World Bank rewards tech solutions in three areas: digital health in East Africa, resilience in India and gender equality around the world. The winners were announced this week from more than 1000 applications. Three winners selected for gender equality, 10 for resilience and 17 for digital health.

Space Tech

NASA and leaders from Lockheed Martin and Space Tango discussed technology’s role in accelerating space research and breakthroughs to benefit all of humanity.

GadgetGuy’s take

Congratulations CES on CES 2021– a good job under difficult circumstances

First a segue – I have spent most of my life involved in staging major meetings, conferences and special events – even inventing the tech and systems that underpin the ‘meetings’ raison d’etre to this day.

For me, it was of vital interest to see

How such an important face-to-face event would translate to a digital one – face-to-screen!

The answer is that CES had no choice and invested in the tech and techniques to make it happen. #1 have good digital tech and create a platform that works for all exhibitors.

How many of the regular exhibitors would participate?

While 2000 is not its highest number of exhibitors, it proves that CES has a lot of ‘muscle memory’. Vendors use it to jump-start the year announcing a broad range of products and services that we may or may not see in the coming months or even years. Yes, it spurs exhibitors on to get these releases ready.

Was the coverage as wide and good as walking the floor?

No. We could only cover major announcements, and too much information relied on incomplete press releases than hands-on first looks. Those major vendors had the ‘social reach’ to get the lion’s share of publicity over smaller vendors.

Coverage, in general, was very much limited – there was no investigative journalism here and readers are poorer for that.

How have video conferences affected GadgetGuy?

First, the enormous time-saving in not having to attend launch events. Nor eat and drink at a vendor’s expense. Yes, we miss these events for all the wrong social reasons.

But the brutal truth is that most vendors have not mastered video confernces and presentations. The majority are dull, colourless, and boring doing less than a well-researched press release, specs sheet and early access to review product can achieve. Conversely, the better ones get the coverage.

Our message to CES, IFA, Cebit, CEDIA, Mobile World Congress, DEF CON and other majors is that as soon as a COVID vaccine efficacy is proven, it is time to get back to Face-to-Face.

You can read our CES 2021 coverage here