There is only one week to go until CES 2021 begins—and there's already no question that this will be the weirdest one I have ever attended (and even "attended" should go in quotations). Despite being all virtual, CES still has almost 2,000 exhibitors‚ and that number climbs every day.
Trying to game what the central theme of a particular CES is before it happens will forever be a losing play, but I do have eight areas I'm looking for this year:
1) A plethora of air purification devices and concepts. The single highest percentage category of the CES 2021-related emails I have received since the beginning of December is in this category. In addition, many of these products come from companies you might not expect.
2) Devices with applications made more obvious or meaningful by the pandemic. An example is a robot designed to overcome social isolation and cognitive decline.
3) A constant drumbeat of new health and fitness devices, many inspired by the fact that so many of us remain largely at home. These devices include many smartwatches and a medical massage chair.
4) Smart homes and everything related. I'm anticipating endless variations on the smart lock theme along with home automation and smart home decorations. At least one company believes that we need an AI-enabled wash basin.
5) Big-name keynotes. AMD, GM, Microsoft, and Verizon all have keynotes at CES 2021. Interestingly, most of these are repeats of relatively recent keynotes—giving some welcome familiarity to regular attendees.
6) Though few will be seeing them in person, there will be major TV introductions from the usual suspects. LG already has a few off-the-wall (sorry!) display debuts: a 48-inch gaming display that bends when needed and further development of their transparent OLED technology.
7) Despite the fact that many of us have not been very mobile in the previous twelve months, there is still a lot of activity around mobility, which we'll cover in detail. Mercedes-Benz has a formal press conference scheduled for Monday and Mac Edition Radio will be attending multiple mobility-related sessions over the week. There's also an all electric motor coach designed specifically for North American roads.
8) Finally, the eternal question: what relatively unsung areas of technology will I see that interest me? At every CES, at least a few technologies come out of the blue with interesting applications, such as Tanvas in 2017 and the Griffin BreakSafe USB-C power connector in 2016.
What unexpected products and technologies will I see this year? Visit Mac Edition Radio later this month and find out!
John Mulhern III, Posted 1/4/2021