After the all-digital Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2021, this year’s in-person show returned to Las Vegas and featured hundreds of new products ranging from shiny new objects and practical devices to pie-in-the sky tech, true to form for CES.
Even though many sponsors (Google, T-Mobile, Amazon to name a few) pulled out at the last minute due to coronavirus concerns, there were still plenty of new tech demos and compelling developments on display.
Here are our top 5 technology trend takeaways from CES 2022:
- The Race to Metaverse
Even with the big players in the metaverse space absent from this year’s show – Google, Meta (“the company formerly known as Facebook”), Sony – there was still talk of the metaverse everywhere. [See “What the Metaverse Means for Marketers” for a primer.]
Companies showcased new ways to work, be social, shop, and play games in the metaverse. For hardware, dozens of vendors released new augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and extended reality (XR) headsets, haptic suits, and digital modeling tech.
Though a lot of hype surrounds a VR metaverse akin to the OASIS from Ready Player One, an AR-driven metaverse may be the first step. New AR goggles, glasses, and contact lenses unveiled at CES may allow for quicker adoption than VR devices.
Each metaverse company is trying to develop experiences on their own platform. It remains to be seen which metaverse will win out, but it’s likely that the future version of the metaverse that operates best is one that is connected with other platforms.
- NFTs & the Promise of Blockchain Technology
One of the recurring themes for the show was the presence of “non-fungible tokens.” NFTs are unique, irreplaceable digital assets that live on the blockchain. They were clearly more than a buzzword, with NFT product vendors and marketplaces shown alongside the standard Internet of Things (IoT) booths.
This year also featured an entire program on NFTs and digital assets for the first time ever, with several lectures and panels aimed at tackling environmental issues, disrupting the art market, and how real-world objects can be paired with digital assets.
Along with a new line of TVs, Samsung unveiled a platform it calls a “screen-based explorer and NFT marketplace aggregator.” This will enable those interested in NFTs to more easily buy and display their art and assets. Other vendors released stickers that tied tangible objects to a virtual version that could be used in games and other apps.
Although most of the NFT products and services were geared toward early adopters, healthcare marketers should keep an eye on the space as blockchain technology begins to evolve into new real-world use cases and more brands incorporate the tech into strategies for PR, non-profit fundraising, and education.
Healthcare marketers should keep an eye on the space as blockchain technology begins to evolve into new real-world use cases.
- Smart Healthy Homes, Connected Experiences & Data Interoperability
CES is all about showcasing “smart” devices, from connected TVs and refrigerators to cars that drive themselves and change color. Health in the home was a big theme, with smart homes emphasizing human-centric lighting, air/water/environment quality sensors, and connected platforms with the goal of living healthier lives, both physically and mentally.
At CES, nearly 30 companies showcased their support for Matter, a new smart home standard backed by Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung, and others that finally allows their devices to communicate with one another.
As more devices become smart and live within their own tech-driven ecosystems, data interoperability — the ability to allow real-time exchanges between systems — has become a critical and ongoing pursuit. In healthcare, this will continue to be particularly important so electronic health data can be used to optimize health outcomes.
In healthcare, [data interoperability] will continue to be particularly important so electronic health data can be used to optimize health outcomes.
- Building the Future Hybrid / Remote Workforce
It’s no doubt that the corporate workforce spun upside down in March 2020, moving executive decisions from boardrooms to video calls. At the time, Zoom and Teams were seemingly the best tech options for staying connected and have proven that remote work can be just as effective as a full in-person setting. CES revealed that many tech companies are betting on this moving forward.
New technologies were unveiled to better engage and connect in both hybrid and remote settings, from an office-based metaverse to new virtual workshop tools, and enhanced video technologies that create elevated engagement and better facilitation of meetings with both people in-office and remote.
- Booth Theater in a COVID World
With CES attracting hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe during a pandemic, many booth setups were notably different than in years past. Even though attendance required a fully vaccinated status and masks were mandated on the show floor, vendors did their best to create hands-off experiences for their hands-on demos.
For example, Abbott, which handed out free test kits to every attendee, had a unique booth design featuring projection-mapped domes that simulate VR experiences without a headset.
Abbott had a unique booth design featuring projection-mapped domes that simulate VR experiences without a headset.
The use of AR was also prominent, since these experiences scale well for at home use too. LG, a last-minute no-show, had QR codes in their empty booth space that allowed users to navigate their “booth” with AR overlays on their mobile cameras. Other booths used AR to bring ordinary objects like cereal boxes to life.
Immersive experiences from SK, Panasonic, and BMW used projector and mirrors to fill a space with environments that helped attendees step into another world. These booths transported attendees to novel locations like rainforests and outer space, educating with overlays where the focus was on messaging. Since these more basic executions were hands-off but effective, we expect to see more of these in live and hybrid conferences in the future.
Stay tuned for part 2 — a recap of CES’s Digital Health Summit!
Authors: Andrew Grojean, Associate Director, Innovation; Alex Kareotes, Director, Media and Innovation