Each January, big crowds descend on Las Vegas for the CES gadget present, an extravaganza of tech and glitz supposed to set the tone for the approaching 12 months in client expertise. CES kicks off this week, however due to the pandemic, it will likely be in a radical new format: a “digital” present going down solely in our on-line world.
Sure, that implies that everybody can nonetheless get a glimpse of the long run, however solely by way of expertise of the long run – aka video streams and chat. If all goes properly, attendees will have the ability to marvel at COVID-fighting ‘coronabots’, synthetic intelligence-powered avatars, and clear TVs.
However it’s nonetheless not totally clear precisely how all this all goes to work or whether or not the present will generate something resembling its regular boosting affect on the tech business.
“It’s totally different. Clearly, we’re not going to be in Las Vegas. We’ll be unfold out all over the world,” stated Gary Shapiro, president of the Shopper Know-how Affiliation, the commerce group that produces CES. “However I believe there’s an perspective that due to COVID, that we’re all on this collectively, and that’s what the CES is about. It’s actually the shared expertise of the business. Everybody simply desires to return collectively.”
The present can be a trade-off, Shapiro stated. Neglect the attention-getting spectacles like dazzling wall-high TV shows and Google’s theme-park journey from two years in the past. As a substitute, Shapiro stated, there can be an opportunity for a extra personalised expertise that attendees can arrange prematurely primarily based on their explicit pursuits.
That’s the optimistic view. On the flip facet, smaller exhibitors are much less more likely to get seen and not using a present flooring. Serendipitous conferences between entrepreneurs and traders, potential acquirers and acquirees, job-seekers and employers – all frequent to the world’s largest tech present – will most likely be scarce.
Greater than 150,000 attendees and 1,800 exhibitors will participate in CES from Monday to Thursday, a present that can now include digital keynote speeches, product demonstrations, and panel discussions. Plus, there’s the chance to community in digital assembly rooms. Final 12 months within the bodily present, there have been about 170,000 attendees and 4,400 exhibitors. The variety of exhibitors have been capped this 12 months at 2,000 to make sure that the web expertise, which is being run by Microsoft, was optimum.
Tim Bajarin, president of consultancy Artistic Methods, insists that not a lot has modified about CES for him even though he can be gazing screens somewhat than haunting assembly rooms and pacing the conference flooring. He’s nonetheless researching merchandise he desires to see demos of, scheduling conferences with folks he desires to speak to one-on-one, and specializing in keynotes and classes to attend.
“The distinction is I’m not there bodily having to stroll 10 miles a day, and I’m not paying exorbitant excessive resort charges,” he stated. “I’m not having to battle folks shoulder-to-shoulder to navigate the present flooring.”
However smaller firms and start-ups may discover it more durable to face out. Whereas CES has gone to nice lengths to let attendees search via exhibitors by subject and curiosity classes, the positioning nonetheless could be difficult to navigate. When the present is in Las Vegas, its “Eureka Park” is an space the place you may wander – aimlessly or with function – via a whole bunch of cubicles extolling new internet-connected devices, unglamorous back-end expertise providers, or anything you may want.
On-line, you may seek for ‘Eureka Park’ or ‘startup’, however what you get is a seemingly infinite set of pages bearing the logos of 600 firms, 12 at a time – and no description of any of them.