When we talk about the big picture at CES — the annual sprawling consumer electronics and technology tradeshow in January — we usually mean more expansive 4K and 8K big-screen TVs. But at the upcoming 2023 CES in Las Vegas, the big picture will be global themes and concerns including climate change and human rights.
“We have a show with a purpose,” said CTA chief executive Gary Shapiro in a pre-briefing. “We want to show how technologies can support human rights.” Those goals include the right to clean air and clean water, which features products like purification technologies, as well as sustainability concerns, which include everything from recycling to electric vehicle programs. From TVs to tires, CES, which runs from January 5th through 8th, will emphasize these themes in exhibits and products across the technology spectrum. It’s a theme that appeals to the latest generation of consumers, say manufacturers.
“We’ve been focusing our research on Millennials and Gen Z and in every market their number one concern was the environment,” said Michael King, group manager of brand marketing for Panasonic in an interview with Dealerscope. King noted that such concerns touch on virtually every part of the company’s business, from making electric car batteries to HVAC systems to consumer electronics–and buyers are looking for products that address their concerns about global warming. “There’s a sense of urgency,” he said.
While the 2023 show promises to emphasize broader themes, it will have a scaled down appearance. According to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), they expect to see 100,000 visitors descend on Las Vegas in January versus the 175,000 people who came to the show before the pandemic in 2020. Indeed, CES is still feeling the effects of the pandemic, with many smaller Chinese companies unable to exhibit due to continuing restrictions in their home country. However, there are 2,200 exhibitors committed to attend, but that’s well shy of the 4,000-plus exhibitors on display at the 2020 show.
Still, according to the CTA, 40 of the top retailers will be attending CES, as will representatives from 166 countries. And most of the major CE manufacturers will be in attendance, such as TV makers Hisense, LG, Samsung, Sony, and TCL. Following CES traditions, there will be state-of-the-art technologies exhibited, such as LG’s 88-inch Signature OLED 8K TV. And while most companies have been tight-lipped about specific product announcements, advanced display tech such as microLED is expected to remain out of reach for most shoppers.
Smart home products will continue to make some headway CES, with more consumer- friendly products expected to appear. Samsung has already committed to making all of its products connected devices in 2023, for example. And at CES, Roku and Sonos will be expanding their product lines using their brand strength to compete in the Web cam and anticipated video door bell spaces. And Matter, the smart home connectivity standard backed by companies including Amazon, Apple and Google, is expected to be top of mind among smart home product suppliers. However, an informal survey among companies interviewed for this article found lukewarm enthusiasm for the connected home standard.
Auto Tech Goes Big
In pre-show interviews and presentations, Shapiro and others from the CTA repeatedly mentioned that CES 2023 will be the largest auto tech show in North America, a distinction that has been growing over the years. While some regional car shows, such as the Detroit Auto Show have struggled in recent times, CES has become more and more mobility focused. For the 2023 show, the West Hall has been sold out with nearly 300 transportation exhibitors, said Shapiro. And the show will feature a number of major car and truck reveals, debuts that are usually reserved for dedicated car shows.
Stellantis, which commands the Dodge and Chrysler brands, plans to finally introduce its all-electric Ram 1500 Revolution concept pickup truck on January 5 at the show, for example. Meanwhile, BMW will pull the wraps off of its Vision Vehicle, which will highlight the German automaker’s next-generation car platform. At an investor conference, BMW board member Nicolas Peter said the CES debut will underscore the fact that “the future of the BMW Group is electric…and digital.”
Meanwhile, electric vehicles will also be the focus for Peugeot, which will unveil its Inception Concept. Peugeot plans to use its January 5 reveal to highlight its view of an all-electric vehicle lineup.
New to CES in 2023 will be the inclusion of maritime exhibitors. Most notable in this category is Candela and Brunswick. Swedish company Candela will unveil its electric hydrofoil C-8 day cruiser. The 28-foot boat will boast a top speed of 30 knots and be able to cruise at 20 knots for 20 hours. Brunswick, whose Mercury outboards power a third of the recreational boats in the U.S. and whose brands include Boston Whaler and SeaRay, will also be making new announcements at CES. The company already leverages semi-autonomous navigation technology on many models and is working on self-docking technology. Expect to see some new electrified products at CES, said Brunswick CEO David Foulkes ahead of the show. “Our electrification strategy is going to be central to what we talk about at CES,” he said.
Automotive suppliers such as Bosch and Continental will also be touting new technologies. Bosch offers advanced sensor technologies for smart cities, for example, while Continental will be featuring sustainable tire compounds and upgradable car architectures.
One of the literally biggest exhibits is expected to be from tractor brand John Deere. The company’s chairman and CEO John May will be delivering a keynote address highlighting how John Deere technology can help agricultural customers be more productive and efficient “in the most sustainable way.” In a pre-show address, May said it will be about how farmers “can do more with less.” Examples in the past have included autonomous technology to till and plant fields and a 36-camera array that allows tractors to spray only weeds and avoid plants in order to reduce the environmental impact of herbicides. Deere is expected to make further electric vehicle announcements at CES.
Lastly, health and wellness will continue to be a major part of CES in adherence to the theme of protecting human rights to healthcare a clean environment. Over-the-counter hearing aids, recently approved for sale in the U.S., will be a popular product in this area, as will water purification systems and even plant-based food products. Topical digital technologies will also be on display, such as Abbott’s diagnostic test to detect concussions. Some exhibits, such as Panasonic’s minimalistic display space featuring reusable construction components will bring multiple products together in a carbon-neutral home, said King, including energy-saving technologies and air purification systems for the home–and the car.
Capping off 2023 CES will be an Indy car race at the Las Vegas motor speedway, with a twist. It’s the return of the Indy Autonomous Challenge on January 7 with research teams putting their best self-driving technology forward–at speeds of excess of 180 mph. Without human drivers, the cars rely on the cutting-edge sensor and software technologies, high-speed wireless communications, and ultra-low-latency computing.
As a demonstration of our gradual recovery from the global pandemic, CES 2023 won’t be up to full speed this time around. But the panoply of products and themes of sustainability and public health hopefully will find more enthusiastic consumers in the year to come.
- Products at the show emphasize themes like sustainability and supporting human rights.
- A new exhibition of maritime vehicles will debut at the show, complete with electric options.
- Health and wellness products like over-the-counter hearing aids, water purification systems and even plant-based food products will be popular this year.