Each January, big crowds descend on Las Vegas for the CES gadget present, an extravaganza of tech and glitz meant to set the tone for the approaching 12 months in shopper know-how. CES kicks off this week, however due to the pandemic, it is going to be in a radical new format: a “digital” present going down solely in our on-line world.
Sure, that signifies that everybody can nonetheless get a glimpse of the long run, however solely by way of know-how of the long run – aka video streams and chat. If all goes effectively, attendees will be capable to marvel at COVID-fighting ‘coronabots’, synthetic intelligence-powered avatars, and clear TVs.
However it’s nonetheless not solely clear precisely how all this all goes to work or whether or not the present will generate something resembling its regular boosting impression on the tech trade.
“It’s completely different. Clearly, we’re not going to be in Las Vegas. We’ll be unfold out world wide,” mentioned Gary Shapiro, president of the Client 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 trade. Everybody simply needs to return collectively.”
The present shall be a trade-off, Shapiro mentioned. Overlook the attention-getting spectacles like dazzling wall-high TV shows and Google’s theme-park experience from two years in the past. As a substitute, Shapiro mentioned, there shall 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 prone to get observed with no present ground. Serendipitous conferences between entrepreneurs and buyers, potential acquirers and acquirees, job-seekers and employers – all frequent to the world’s largest tech present – will in all probability be scarce.
Greater than 150,000 attendees and 1,800 exhibitors will participate in CES from Monday to Thursday, a present that can now encompass 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 net 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 supposing he shall be looking at screens relatively than haunting assembly rooms and pacing the conference ground. He’s nonetheless researching merchandise he needs to see demos of, scheduling conferences with individuals he needs 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 mentioned. “I’m not having to battle individuals shoulder-to-shoulder to navigate the present flooring.”
However smaller firms and start-ups may discover it tougher to face out. Whereas CES has gone to nice lengths to let attendees search by exhibitors by matter and curiosity classes, the positioning nonetheless might be difficult to navigate. When the present is in Las Vegas, its “Eureka Park” is an space the place you’ll be able to wander – aimlessly or with function – by a whole bunch of cubicles extolling new internet-connected devices, unglamorous back-end know-how providers, or the rest you may want.
On-line, you’ll be able to 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.