CES returns with purpose
Partnering with the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security gave CES 2023 a definite sense of purpose. But technologies enhancing a huge spectrum of human experience were on the agenda too
“We have a show with a purpose,” said Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association. Across four days, participating companies demonstrated their vision for tackling the global crises that threaten human security.
As GroupM pointed out in its CES wrap: “The innovations showcased at CES 2023 in Las Vegas underscored the possibilities of better living through technology, unveiling product innovations that addressed the changing consumer needs and behaviours brought on by the pandemic.”
For the first time, CES partnered with the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and the World Academy of Art and Science on the Human Security for All (HS4A) global campaign to foster food security, as well as access to healthcare, personal income, environmental protection, personal safety, community security and political freedom. “CES isn't just about product launches,” said Shapiro. “It's also a platform for huge ideas.”
Big numbers to tackle big challenges
CES 2023 shattered expectations of audience numbers, drawing over 115,000 industry professionals. More than 40,000 international attendees from at least 140 countries attended. There were also over 3,200 exhibitors, including 1,000 start-ups. In fact, CES 2023 was 70% larger than CES 2022 in terms of exhibition space.
The show provided the opportunity to demonstrate the cross-fertilisation of technology with need, and highlight how collaboration and innovation across all industries, and all countries, can improve the human experience.
But there was more. Interwoven with the theme of purpose and human security, this huge audience participated in keynotes and exhibitions that demonstrated big ideas across numerous tech niches.
Web3 and the metaverse
For the first time, CES 2023 boasted a dedicated metaverse area on the show floor, demonstrating immersive, interactive digital worlds, and encompassing blockchain and digital assets. “Although there were fewer metaverse activations than attendees saw last year, there were strong metaverse integrations into new product launches,” said Wunderman Thompson in its CES wrap.
“Like many hyped technologies before (remember the 3D printing craze?), ‘Web3’ has become a catchall for cryptocurrency, blockchain, NFTs, etc,” said GroupM. “This is the year that we move through the hype cycle to test practical applications that will make or break metaverse adoption.”
GroupM pointed out: “Remember that web3 is different from crypto, and that an understanding and investment in adoption by brands and platforms may lag large-scale consumer interest.” And it reminded us: “Meta-interest will vary and shift among publishers, platforms, brands and consumers, especially based on how metaverse-adjacent tech like VR and AR evolve, as well as the state of economic uncertainty.”
Innovation in digital health
CES 2023 brought numerous new digital health innovations and brands to the global stage, demonstrating how rapidly the market is growing. Innovations included digital therapeutics, mental wellness, women’s health tech and telemedicine.
GroupM commented: “We saw plenty of brands providing ways to not only quantify health and medical data, but also take the next step in qualifying ways to provide support for emotional, physical and mental wellbeing through connectivity tools that help those seeking to support with ways of moving from sympathy to empathy.”
But it also pointed out that all the apps, sensors, wearables, devices and inventions demonstrated at the show sought to help people improve and enhance their lives in “empathy-driven ways outside of traditional medical settings like hospitals and doctors’ offices”. It went on: “Accessibility, or, more critically, the lack of varied inclusion in technology today, was a major theme amongst the technology brands at CES.”
Sustainability on show
Global brands showcased at CES 2023 how innovation can conserve energy and increase power generation, create sustainable agricultural systems, power smart cities and support access to clean water.
“One notable activation was SK Telecom’s Urban Air Mobility solution, which reduces time and pollution with AI semiconductors and virtual power plants for renewable energy,” said Wunderman Thompson. “An on-site simulator showed attendees how the virtual power plant supplies renewable power to aircrafts and airfields.” What is more, SK ecoplant shared WAYBLE, a digital tracker that manages the life cycle of waste which was a winner of the Innovation Award in the Smart City category.
Sustainability is key for consumers. “Consumers are increasingly taking environmental issues into consideration when making purchase decisions,” pointed out GroupM. “Understand that doing good for the environment isn’t just doing good for the world; it’s good for business.” It went on: “Consumers require that any green-aligned product or service matches the competitive marketplace offering; they won't invest in sustainability if the experience isn’t perfect.”
Automotive and mobility
With some 300 vehicle tech exhibitors, CES 2023 included products launches from global companies focused on self-driving tech, electric vehicles and personal mobility devices for land, air and sea.
Mindshare, in its CES wrap, pointed out: “Electric continues to be the focus for many auto brands. As more consumers adopt EVs, charging infrastructure is critical. Mercedes announced plans to launch a global high-power Mercedes-Benz-branded charging network in North America this year.”
We also saw new ventures. “Honda Motor Co. and Sony unveiled a prototype of their planned electric vehicle brand called Afeela, which they are looking to put into mass production in 2025. Volkswagen unveiled its ID.7 electric sedan that includes a paint job that you can change the colour of by scanning a QR code,” said Mindshare.
Eureka Park at CES featured 1,000 start-ups from countries including Japan, Korea, France, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, Hong Kong, Netherlands, US and Ukraine. Technology included renewable paper solutions to reduce CO2 emissions, AI technology used to reduce food waste, solar technology to capture both electrical and thermal energy, and personal safety apps.
To qualify, Eureka Park exhibitors were required to display technology that is applicable to the consumer technology space, the product or service had to be innovative with the potential to make a profound impact on the market, and the technology had to be demonstrable as a prototype or software mock-up.
And diversity was more than an idea
Diversity rippled throughout CES 2023. The Female Quotient was the official Equality Partner of CES, bringing its Equality Lounge® which brings together Fortune 500 leaders to collaborate on equality.
AgeTech; AI for improving the lives of those living with a disability; building an inclusive Web3; diversity within innovation; inclusive technology for long lives; and investing in the next generation of women and diverse entrepreneurs – these were all topics up for discussion at the show.
Perhaps, beyond the themes, CES is mostly about sharing ideas. It is about reimagining what is possible to not only tackle global crises but also to achieve shared prosperity.
11 January 2023
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