CES visitor numbers improve as in-person attendance recovers, but digital offering returns
The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, is an annual event showcasing the latest innovations and upcoming technologies. Last year’s event saw a hybrid approach due to coronavirus fears still looming large, and whilst this year’s event was more akin to pre-pandemic editions of the show, visitor numbers have still to recover. The Las Vegas exhibition is believed to have drawn in close to 115,000 visitors this year[i], well shy of the 171,000 recorded in January 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. In addition, CES continued to build on last year’s hybrid offering, providing digital attendance this year which included videos of keynotes, digital exhibitor showcases, and recordings of select sessions. Featured exhibitors at this year’s show included Microsoft, John Deere, LG, Sony, and Amazon.
The topic of sustainability was prominent at this year’s event, with organisers CTA (Consumer Technology Association) announcing a new partnership with the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS), an affiliate of the UN. The partnership’s main goal is to create awareness of the UN’s Human Securities for All (HS4A) initiative: “The aim is to highlight the critical role of technology in support of United Nations efforts to advance basic human rights. Sustainability is a central component across U.N. human securities pillars. CES exhibitors and attendees will see the theme of human security for all prominently featured throughout the show. It’s also a new product category for the CES Innovation Awards”[ii].
In a further step, CTA used this year’s CES event to highlight some of the measures being taken to improve sustainability at the event itself. These include:
- The majority of informational and promotional material is now electronic rather than printed
- CES donates surplus food to area food banks and uses food containers and utensils made of biodegradable materials
- Frying oil is recycled so that it can be converted to biodiesel
- Fleet vehicles are 90% powered by propane or battery
- The event hosts multiple meetings in one location - exhibitors conduct an average of 29 meetings per show – reducing the need to travel for separate, individual meetings[iii]
EVs centre stage once again, but autonomous vehicles fall out of favour
CES 2023 saw a wealth of EVs (Electric Vehicles) showcased once again; however, the big surprise was that autonomous vehicles were less prominent than at recent iterations of CES. Where in previous years we have seen futuristic consumer applications for autonomous vehicles- such as self-driving taxis, this year autonomous tech was far more near-term and practical, such as with ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) and AV (Autonomous Vehicle) market leaders Mobileye who promoted their driver assistance technology as a near-term solution, noting that future consumer AVs will come to market at scale by using its driver assist system, Mobileye SuperVision[iv].
In terms of EVs themselves, in-car technology was the big talking point, with Holoride showcasing Virtual Reality applications and augmented reality also in the mix, with BMW showcasing a reimagined heads-up display (HUD)[v]. Also worth mentioning was GM and Microsoft’s demonstration. Looking at the challenges and opportunities of EV charging times, the corporations have developed a new video game called Dash Runner. This game showcased the kind of entertainment consumers might want to interact with while waiting for their EV to charge. We also saw the usual fair of EV launches, with Ram’s new truck concept and Peugeot’s concept being the most notable.
The Ram 1500 Revolution concept drew much attention
Batteries galore: energy storage & home backup become a (more affordable) reality
Whilst perhaps not the most eye-catching technology on display, batteries have significant future applications and benefits for the world in which we live. Many of those being shown had the ability to use renewable sources- such as solar plugins, as a means to recharge. For example, Bluetti showcased its B300S capable of powering the whole house. In regular use, mains power or a solar array can be used to keep the batteries topped up. But, during a power cut, the battery takes over like a more traditional generator. The system can be set to operate two separate circuits; one with essential power circuits (your fridge, cooking and heating/cooling, for example) and one with less essential circuits (say, your washing machine and EV)[vi].
Genverse delivered affordability, showcasing its new range of home storage batteries widely available in retailers throughout the US. The two new power stations launched were:
- The HomePower One with 1,210 Wh of capacity, 1,200 W of rated power and 2,400 W of surge power
- The HomePower Two with 2,419 Wh of capacity, 2,200 W of rated power and 4,400 W of surge power.
According to TechCrunch, both power stations have three 120V outlets, two 100 W USB-C outputs, and two USB-A quick-charge sockets. “The smaller power station costs $1,500 and the bigger one is $2,500. You can add two or four solar panels to the power stations, respectively, bringing the price tag to $2,600 or $4,800. With prices like that, at-home backup power is starting to come into range for most homeowners. The company didn’t skimp on the batteries either, opting for the ultra-high efficiency LFP/ LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) battery tech. These are very safe indeed and provide a lifespan of around 3,000 charge cycles.[vii]
Lastly, Yoshino portable power stations also saw much fanfare, with their batteries built around a new solid electrolyte, replacing the bulky and flammable liquid electrolyte found in most lithium batteries. Yoshino professes that this enables faster charging times, as well as better performance from a lighter battery (when compared to traditional lithium batteries).
Numerous Cleantech Products Announced
As with every year at CES, there were a wealth of announcements and new product launches, with several focussing more specifically on the Cleantech space. These included:
- GreenSwap is a Dutch company aiming to help food companies and delivery services understand and measure their carbon footprint, notably helping them target Scope 3 emissions. The company uses an algorithm which has access to information on food products from published research papers, thus enabling it to assign a carbon footprint to every food’s barcode. The algorithm also fine-tunes the number with information about a product’s farming techniques and packaging. During CES, attendees could use GreenSwapp’s app to scan the barcodes of milk containers to compare their carbon footprint. The company claims this works on any food item with a barcode[viii].
- Following the likes of Tesla and GM, Mercedes announced plans to develop a 10,000-charger network by 2030, starting with the U.S. and Canada and later expanding into China, Europe and other key markets. The German manufacturer has said that the North segment of its network will eventually grow to 400 hubs, with a total of 2,500 “high-power chargers.” In terms of charging speeds, these will see a maximum of 350 kW, and each station will have up to 30 chargers. The chargers will be open to anyone, but Mercedes owners will get privileges in that they will be able to reserve stations ahead of time.
- A surprising addition to the EV category was an electric outboard motor developed by Mercury Marine. The new Avator 7.5e electric outboard marks the first of its kind from Mercury[ix] and shows the promise of electrification of small watercraft, not something we hear mentioned amongst the more established markets for electric cars, vans, and bikes.
[ii] Showcasing Sustainability at CES 2023
[iv] “Mobileye: Now, Next, Beyond”, CES 2023 Press Conference w/ Mobileye CEO Prof. Amnon Shashua (Live) - YouTube
[v] BMW reimagines the head-up display | TechCrunch
[vi] A big CES 2023 trend: All battery power, everywhere, all the time | TechCrunch
[viii] CES 2023: Companies tout environmental tech innovations | AP News
[ix] Mercury Marine Unveils Its First Electric Outboard Boat Motor - CleanTechnica
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