The high mass of consumer tech starts on Wednesday for participants who have not canceled their stay.
Published: 05.01.2022, 09:34
Last year, the event was held exclusively on the internet.
The annual consumer electronics show, CES in Las Vegas, opens Wednesday to attendees who haven't canceled, despite the pandemic. Exhibitors are waiting for a resumption of business.
"The tech community salutes and applauds our efforts to maintain a safe environment, so that business can continue," Steve Koenig, vice president of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which is organizing the event, told AFP. Last year, it took place only on the internet. By 2020, about 4,500 exhibitors had come to Nevada to show off their AI-inflated robots, cars, TVs and connected devices. They will be half less for this edition.
Large companies (Amazon, Microsoft, Intel, BMW, General Motors…) were the first to withdraw or reduce their presence.
In front of the convention center, the huge space usually occupied by the Google tent remained empty, as did many stands during previews reserved for the press.
“Despite the highly publicized withdrawals of a few exhibitors, we have more than 2,200 (…) and all are counting on us to move forward. Because these companies need investors and partners,” insisted Steve Koenig.
Tech wants people…
Omicron now accounts for 95% of new infections in the United States, according to health authorities. Participants must provide proof that they are vaccinated, and wear a mask, but there are no compulsory tests. "We are worried because of the increase in cases, but hey, we are vaccinated, and we also had the recall," said Bhavya Gohil, boss of the start-up Square Off, who considers the measures sufficient.
He is disappointed with the many withdrawals, but has not considered canceling himself. “We had already invested a lot of money for the stand, so we really had to come. All the contracts that we get thanks to the CES… It's very important”. The show is held in a hybrid format, in person but also online, thanks to software designed by the Web Summit, a European technology fair.
“The advantage of online conferences is that you can meet more people in an efficient way. There are no journeys, no noise, no distractions”, notes Paddy Cosgrave, the owner and founder of the Web Summit. “But personally I don't think we can replicate the quality of human-to-human interactions. This is undoubtedly why there is a strong appetite for the return to face-to-face ”.
… but also virtual
On the menu for the 2022 edition, transport, which is increasingly electric and autonomous, is popular. Space-related technologies are making a remarkable entrance, after a year devoted to space tourism, and in full development of the Internet by satellite. Innovations in sustainable development and connected health, strong trends for years, also take up a lot of space.
And the metaverse is on everyone's lips, although its definition is still unclear at this point. The concept designates the emergence of parallel universes connected to each other, which humans will access via augmented and virtual reality equipment. Born out of science fiction, it's been all the rage ever since Facebook announced huge investments in this area and renamed itself Meta.
But for now, the industry is focused on more immediate challenges, like the global shortage of microchips and lead times, which are delaying new product launches. Thanks to the pandemic and health restrictions, the technology industry has experienced substantial growth in the United States, by 7% in 2020 and almost 10% in 2021, according to the CTA.
In 2022, it should see a more moderate increase, of 2.8%, but it will still represent some 500 billion dollars.