CES 2021Online Casino, Entertainment, Technology
Since the late 1960s, CES has kicked the year off with their winter showcase full of the most exciting and innovative consumer technology that the near future has to offer. This year the event looked a little different, but it still held true to this long pedigree of excellence, inspiration and innovation. The aim of the conference was, as ever, to give the world insight into the technology of the future and set the tone for the year to come.
In 2021, the event took its cue from online casinos and was entirely internet-based for the first time ever. This was due to the global pandemic and safety regulations around crowds gathering and people travelling. The organizers have said that they do hope that in 2022, they’ll be able to welcome people back to the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre in Winchester, Nevada.
Switching To Online
Due to growing health and safety concerns, as well as many regulations impacting so many events around the world, the CES organizers took the brave decision to host the entire conference online. This meant that people and exhibitors from around the world could attend without fear or the need to travel. It was a big undertaking to completely shift the way that the conference has run for so many years. However, it was the kind of challenge that the Consumer Technology Association is definitely up for.
They reportedly tested a variety of different videoconferencing platforms in order to get the best fit for the event. In the end, they opted to use Microsoft Teams because it could handle tens of thousands of users at once. Exhibitors and speakers could set up teams within the overall Teams environment, and the administrative staff could ensure that ticket holders had access to the correct groups for discussions and live streaming events.
The actual conference took place on its scheduled dates – January 11 to 14. During this time, ticket holders could access various exhibitions and watch speakers and demonstrations live stream their portions of the event. They were even able to take part in live Q&A sessions. The major downside to this, of course, was the fact that no one could try the devices or tech on display for themselves.
Another major change between this year and other years is in the number of exhibitors. Last year, there were around 4400 on the conference venue floor. This year, less than half that number showed up online – 1800 – meaning the potential global reach wasn’t enough to entice them out onto the digital floor. The actual number of attendees has not been released by the organizers as of yet.
Notable absences included Facebook and Oculus, Google and Amazon. Brad Smith, president of Microsoft did give a keynote address, but the company didn’t have any exhibits of their own during the four days. Samsung did unveil their latest Galaxy smartphone on January 14, but the event wasn’t officially part of CES 2021.
Highlights Of The Conference
Enough of who wasn’t there. It’s time to look at who was there and what exciting things happened during CES 2021.
- The Speakers
For starters, the keynote address from Brad Smith focused on technology as both a tool and a weapon, sparking an intense debate that is incredibly relevant in today’s world. Other featured speakers included Jen Wong (COO of Reddit), Anne Chow (CEO of AT&T Business), Brian Norris (Senior VP of NBCUniversal Media, LLC), Addison Rae (creator of TikTok, co-founder of ITEM Beauty and an actress), as well as Deborah Wahl (Global CMO of General Motors).
The conversation between recording artist Dua Lipa and TV personality Ryan Seacrest on how the live entertainment industry has been reimagined in the last year was a big highlight. Dua Lipa spent a lot of 2020 finding innovative ways to engage with her fans and provide them with the immersive experiences. iHeartMedia was the driving force behind this conversation.
- Clean Tech Trends
Clean tech was a big focus point throughout the conference, with designers and manufacturers looking at ways to ensure they have a positive impact on the environment. Although this year, the trend definitely moved towards personal health, cleaning and purifying – no doubt inspired by the pandemic and the impact it’s had on lives.
Exhibitors showcased portable UV lights that allowed you to easily clean your car and devices to get rid of germs in your air purifier or refrigerator. Antimicrobial materials were also being used on a wide range of devices – smartphone screens, laptops, and their cases or covers. The idea is to get them cleaner so that you can use them safely.
Voice command and other means of interacting without touching also took a front seat at CES this year, as did air filtration and purification systems. There was even a wellness toilet being demonstrated by Toto, a Japanese manufacturer. The sensors in the bowl are meant to be able to detect the early symptoms of disease by the user.
- Mobile Trends
Last year was all about the reinvention of the flip phone, which was more like a folding phone screen. This year, it was all about rolling phones. Both TCL from China and LG from South Korea featured concept smartphones that have screens that can be rolled out from the side of the device to give you more viewing space. These phones looked a lot less bulky than the folding phones that hit the market last year and could be the answer that manufacturers have been looking for.
One of the major advantages of the entirely online event is that it can remain available to exhibitors and ticket holders. There will be no more live streamed sections of CES, but all of the content will remain available until 15 February. This means that those exhibiting can continue to house their presentations on the CES digital platform for more users to view. It’s a great way to continue connecting with more and more people.
The keynote addresses, Q&A sessions, demonstrations and other live elements that took place between January 11 and 14 have all been recorded. They are now available to stream on demand by anyone who has a ticket to the conference. Registered attendees can browse through the sessions held on all four days on the CES website and pick the talks or demonstrations that they want to watch.
A Brief History
They say that necessity is the mother of all invention and it is good to see the Consumer Technology Association rose to the occasion and hosted an incredibly successful online event for 2021.
It may have been smaller than previous years, but it still had plenty of innovation and sparked a lot of conversation about how technology will shape the rest of the year. It also celebrated how proactive the human race can be when faced with extreme challenges like the health crisis that brought the world to an almost standstill last year.
Going online to reach a global audience almost seems to have been the almost natural evolution of the CES event. Since 1967, this event has been the pinnacle of new technology and exciting advancements across numerous advancements.
The very first videocassette recorder was unveiled at the 1970 show and then came the DVD in 1996, the Xbox in 2001, a number of Android devices in 2010, and virtual reality in 2015. Who knows which incredible devices or concepts from 2021 will make it into the history books as a true game changer for the world?