The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) has taken the wraps off its all-digital platform for the January 2021 CES, previewing for press what virtual attendees will be able to experience Jan. 11-14, 2021. It won’t be Las Vegas, but based on the descriptions provided in a media briefing Dec. 15, the show organizer, in conjunction with Microsoft – which is powering the virtual experience – has spent the past few months developing what CTA President and CEO Gary Shapiro termed in the announcement statement as a history-making event.
“We began in February and March look at digital, looked at every off-the-shelf package, and decided we had to do something special,” he said. “We had to preserve the serendipity, the joy of learning” that characterizes the traditional face-to-face CES. He added that it was fortunate that CTA made the decision in July to forego hopes of doing a physical show, “letting us focus on making this happen.”
Shapiro described the event in an announcement statement: “This new experience will feature more than 1,000 exhibitors from around the world, showcasing the latest trends and innovation in artificial intelligence, 5G, digital health, smart cities, vehicle tech and beyond. Technology will move us forward and CES 2021 will illustrate how innovation paves the way for a brighter tomorrow.”
Keynotes and Conference Sessions
Best Buy CEO Corie Barry will be joining the keynote lineup for a conversation with Fortune CEO Alan Murray. Barry will discuss her vision for the future of tech, leading through the pandemic and why diversity and inclusion is good for business. She joins other confirmed CES keynote speakers, including: Verizon’s Hans Vestberg, General Motors’ Mary Barra, AMD’s Dr. Lisa Su and WarnerMedia’s Ann Sarnoff.
In addition to the keynote program, CES 2021, as part of the blanket $149 trade attendee fee, will permit access to the digital venue and the on-demand show content through Feb. 15 – a full month after the live show concludes.
At the press event, CTA released a video preview of the digital venue to provide a closer look at the experience which will foster collaboration, engagement and connections.
Virtual CES will offer attendees over 100 conference sessions, and CTA has also announced a conference session, “Privacy and Trust with Amazon, Google and Twitter,” featuring privacy executives from all three.
The Live Anchor Desk Format
To help navigate the show, CTA announced that an Anchor Desk, available live for two days, will be part of CES 2021 – featuring individuals from the tech media world. This “central command” area will help attendees navigate the digital experience, hear the latest news and view interviews on critical tech topics. Featured anchors include: Justine Ezarik (iJustine) – Host + Tech Content Creator; Rich DeMuro – Tech reporter for KTLA-TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles; Naomi Kyle – Actress, Producer and host of Star Trek’s The Ready Room on CBS; and Brian Tong – Tech Host & Content Creator.
“CES 2021 will be a collaborative experience, encouraging connections between audiences and exhibitors from around the world,” said Karen Chupka, executive VP, CES, CTA. “We threw out the playbook and decided to not just recreate CES online – but to reimagine it. The digital transformation of our industry has given us opportunity to reach an even larger, global audience and create new experiences for this year and beyond.”
Exhibitors for CES 2021 include tech giants such as Canon, Hisense, Intel, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Philips, Sony, Samsung Electronics, TCL and VOXX, as well as non-traditional tech companies including Bridgestone, Caterpillar, Indy Autonomous Challenge, John Deere, L’Oréal and Procter & Gamble.
Registration is open for media, and the last day for complimentary media registration will be Jan. 8. Jan. 11 will be an exclusive media-only day featuring press conferences and the Verizon keynote. Jan. 12-13 will feature an exhibitor showcase and conference programming; Jan. 14 content includes CES partner programming. Additional information is available at CES.tech.
“I believe in the intensity of human experience,” Shapiro said, in reflecting on CTA’s strategies for both 2021 CES, and on the future of the show. For 2021, he added, “we wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem.” For 2022, CTA, he said, is projecting for a “safe environment… As the virus comes under control and can be detected and treated, we will deal with it. We are human beings and we want to get together.”