CES 2022 is starting to look a lot more like CES 2021, thanks to the latest Covid-19 outbreak triggered by the Omicron variant. While the Consumer Technology Association — the organization that runs CES — had already expected a smaller crowd than pre-Covid years, the days leading up to the start of CES 2022 have seen numerous companies, from Amazon to Google to Microsoft shift to a virtual, rather than a physical presence at the show.
As of December 25, though, Gary Shapiro, CEO of the CTA, said that “CES will and must go on” in a guest column in the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Regardless of whether anyone shows up in person, though, we talked to a few analysts to ask them what they expect to see at the show — and if they’re planning to go. Here are the trends to keep an eye on as CES 2022 gets underway.
CES 2022: Hybrid work
Now that it looks like a number of companies have shifted to a hybrid work model — where their employees only come into an office two to three days a week — there has been greater innovation around home office and remote-conferencing tech.
While there wasn’t enough development time between the first Covid outbreak and CES 2021, tech companies have now been able to design products for this new work environment. Expect those to garner some attention at this year’s CES.
“This is the first big show where products coming to market were designed after the pandemic started,” said Avi Greengart, the founder of Techsponential. “That means a much greater focus on webcam quality, audio and AI noise cancellation, and work-from-everywhere productivity.”
CES 2022: Automotive news
One of the driving innovations in the automotive category shown at CES will be autonomous vehicles and systems — or at least ones claiming to be so.
“I did get a few pitches of fully autonomous cars and trucks demos, so for sure, that will be on the show,” Carolina Milanesi, the founder and principal analyst for The Heart of Tech said. “At the end of the day, that is the nirvana they are [all] trying to sell, even though we know it will still take years.”
Greengart concurs. “I’m getting a lot of pitches for electrification and advanced driver assist technologies,” he said, “but these are still just baby steps towards full autonomy.”
Another component that should get some airtime, Milanesi says, is battery technology — will advances in batteries allow the best electric cars to travel farther on a charge? “[It’s] way less sexy but critical, as autonomous and electric go hand in hand and we need to improve range,” she added.
CES 2022: AR/VR
While augmented and virtual reality devices have received a lot of attention toward the end of the year — no thanks to Facebook’s rebranding as Meta and rumors of an Apple VR and mixed reality headset coming in 2022 — the tech we’ll see at CES won’t be much different than what’s already out there.
“I recommend avoiding press conference drinking games around the word ‘metaverse,’ because you’ll die of liver disease before the end of the week,” says Avi Greengart. “At the same time, I’m not actually expecting to see more than a handful of new smart glasses and headsets at the show.
“The technologies required for mainstream consumer AR are still in development and the biggest companies investing in this space, like Apple, Meta, Google, and Microsoft, all introduce their products at their own events.”
CES 2022: TVs
As always, expect larger and larger TVs, as highlighted in our TV trends to watch in 2022. At the same time, we’ll see some of the tech that was introduced last year — such as Samsung’s mini-LED and LG’s OLED evo — start trickling down to more affordable sets.
We might also see the launch of sets with QD-OLED, which promises to combine the brightness of LED with the color accuracy of OLED sets.
More than just being awesome to look at, TVs are developing into something other than just a device to watch movies. “Of late, we have also seen the TV become the home hub from a smart home perspective but also from a life-at-home-during-Covid perspective,” said Milanesi. To that end, we should see more emphasis on alternate uses, such as fitness and school.
CES 2022: Smart home news
Smart home devices are likely to become a lot smarter, says Blake Kozak, Omdia senior principal analyst for smart homes. For example, he anticipates that we’ll hear a lot more about AI systems that will make security cameras better able to detect things like people and packages.
Kozak says that he expects to see a lot of brands announcing that they’ll work with Matter, the new(ish) smart home standard being backed by Amazon, Apple, Google, and others.
The adoption of Matter will also enable companies to create a more seamless smart home experience — as with Apple’s HomeKit — and offer more services enabled by existing hardware, such as Alexa Guard. “There will be more emphasis on combining use cases and services into a single app,” said Kozak. “Since services is an expanding pillar of the smart home, brands will start to focus on going beyond the hardware, which Matter will facilitate.”