CES 2024: the future now
AI, health tech, transportation – these were just some of the high points at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2024
Imagine 4,300 exhibitors (1,400 of which are startups) converging in Las Vegas – one of the most exciting cities in the world. They are there to demonstrate the future. We often hear that every company must become a tech company, and the sheer breadth of speakers, exhibitors and attendees at CES 2024 confirms that most companies are doing just that.
This show – in its 58th year – rocked. More exhibition space, higher attendance and 60% of Fortune 500 companies making the trip. It is where brands set out their stalls – as visionaries – and announced new products, investments and partnerships. They were there to demonstrate how their tech capabilities can tackle existential challenges and solve problems for consumers and society alike.
While almost every area of tech imaginable was evident at the show, there were some specific tech topics that dominated.
AI was everywhere
AI was part of most exhibitors’, speakers’ and attendees’ stories. How we live, work, communicate, do commerce, be (and stay) well – these areas of real life are getting the AI treatment and participants in CES were demonstrating how. Meanwhile, Force for Good released a new report at the CES Research Summit on tech’s influence on human security which showed that universal connectivity and leveraging AI will improve our world.
But advanced platforms to drive AI are crucial. WPP partner NVIDIA was a notable presence. The company’s special address revealed how its products are pivotal to generative AI, gaming, robotics and many other innovations, all seen throughout the exhibition halls.
But, as WPP’s GroupM pointed out: “Much of what we saw at CES felt incremental rather than transformational. Of course, AI as a term (and brand name appendage) was everywhere, but most use cases continue to rely on the data processing and synthesising capabilities of AI rather than bleeding edge generative AI or artificial general intelligence.”
Health and wellbeing shone
In a show first, and demonstrating how wellbeing and tech have converged, L'Oréal Groupe – along with partners and actress Eva Longoria – delivered a visionary keynote on inclusive beauty tech and how it will improve lives globally.
There was a competitive element to the healthcare proceedings too. During the CTA Foundation pitch contest, eight startups pitched their health tech. Congratulations went to Augmental, the grand prize winner, and Proxy Health, the winner of the audience choice and patient safety prizes.
Attending the show, Mark Pappas at WPP’s CMI Media Group, was struck by the leap forward in wearable tech for remote patient monitoring. He picked out the Gyroglove by GyroGear (a Parkinson's hand tremor stabiliser) and the LipCure Lipbeam by Amorepacific (a beauty tech device detecting lip conditions) as products to watch. His personal favourite tech product was Dassault Systemes’ digital twins of the human heart and the brain used to determine treatment prior to medical intervention.
But Pappas pointed out: “Despite AI's prowess, it is important to acknowledge its inability to replace the irreplaceable human connection crucial for empathetic patient care during critical healthcare interactions.”
Nevertheless, CMI Media Group’s Jose Ferreira reiterated how AI is already embedded in our daily lives from the healthcare perspective. “Health trackers, home diagnostic devices, thermometers, brain and sleep trainers, and even toothbrushes now have AI functionality built in that help users in new ways while also blending into the background of normal life. I think we are seeing the tech move beyond novelty into standard utility,” he said. “In other words, AI is maturing and fading into the background of our lives.”
Transportation into the future
With 600+ mobility exhibitors, CES is a growing global auto, mobility and transportation event – in spite of its name. Autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, micro-mobility, software-defined vehicles flying cars, assistive mobility and safety systems – they were all on display. BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Magna, Mercedes, Paccar, Recaro, Sony, Supernal, Togg and Vinfast were all there.
Will-i-am even unveiled a technology developed with Mercedes to deliver music that reacts to how you, as a driver, drive. The driver literally becomes the composer and conductor of their own playlist – in a safe way. The future of mobility clearly includes entertainment.
And visualising the future of transportation is no longer a guessing game. As new vehicle purchasing increasingly moves online, online car configuration is key. Whatever the type of vehicle, online car configurators are crucial to the future of the world’s automakers. WPP is working with NVIDIA to pioneer generative AI-enabled configurators for the automotive industry, powered by NVIDIA AI and Omniverse, a development platform for building interoperable applications based on Universal Scene Description (OpenUSD).
So much more
From gaming and esports to smart cities and smart homes, there is so much more to CES than the few categories of tech surfaced here. It is even a place for startups to showcase their wares. In fact, this year, a record 1,400+ startups, including country pavilions representing France, Italy, Israel, Japan, Korea, Netherlands and Ukraine, were present.
It’s also a meeting point for senior government officials to meet and chew over the future of technology. At the Innovation Policy Summit, leaders shared an optimistic view of regulation to empower tech innovation, including in AI.
And it’s a breeding ground for dealmaking and where new ways of doing things are discussed openly by businesses at the forefront of tech. For example, Mindshare’s Brian DeCicco, joined forces with Unilever’s Aaron Sobol on a panel moderated by The Weather Company to discuss new ways to use data to connect media actions to business value for clients.
In the end, it’s all about the application of technology that counts. That is what consumers care about. That is how tech improves the world they inhabit.
17 January 2024