It felt like the world was beginning to return to normal at this year’s CES, the behemoth consumer electronics tradeshow that normally attracts 180,000 attendees to Las Vegas. We were among the only 45,000 attending during the show that first week in January. We mitigated our risks with vaccinations, boosters, N95 masks, frequent testing, and far more interpersonal space than one is accustomed to at the show.
After two years of lockdown, it was more meaningful than ever to see friends, partners, customers and rivals in the flesh. The extracurriculars were good, too. Restaurant reservations were easy, the servers eager to please, and the taxis at your beck and call.
And although the in-person numbers were down, the quality, by all accounts, was up. Here are the five trends that caught my eye:
- The pandemic is fueling health tech innovation. Since March 2020, 20% of U.S. households used online health services for the first time, and 20% plan to continue using them in the next year, according to a 2021 Consumer Technology Association study. Supporting this demand, exhibitors showed off technologies for telehealth, remote patient diagnostics, mental wellness and devices purporting to detect the COVID-19 virus in the room, or on your breath!
- AI is getting better. As AI continues to get smarter, there’s no end to where the technology will take us. We’re seeing next-gen no-barcode self-checkout lines, audio tech that could someday detect asthma, office robots, and autonomous drones just for starters.
- “Matter” starts to matter. This year seems to be the year of the ubiquitous smart home. Finally, the promise of a home where smart home devices can simply talk to and understand each other is being delivered. The new Matter standard, developed under guidance of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, and backed by biggies as Apple, Amazon, Google, and tech specialists such as UEI, is unifying the communication independent of protocol such as WIFI, Bluetooth, Thread, ZigBee of others. And as with any new standard, it will take a while before all devices in the home will be replaced. That’s why UEI QuickSet is they to complement, provide depth, and fill in the gaps for those that are not Matter compliant.
- Energy harvesting is growing. Samsung remotes can draw energy from sunlight, and now, the Samsung 2022 Eco Remote can convert routers’ radio waves and indoor light into power. The goal is to save energy, eliminate millions of discarded batteries – and keep your remote ready for action at all times. Wired named it one of its Best of CES 2022. Further, we unveiled the new UEI ETERNA Platform, our most advanced and sustainable voice remote control platform for pay TV operators ever. The energy-harvesting version of these remotes features our “Battery-4-Life” technology that, as the name implies, requires no battery replacement over the useful life of the product.
- Earthly concerns are top of mind. Speaking of saving energy, innovation focused on sustainability is not only a business opportunity, but a contribution to humanity. We’re seeing sustainable, repairable PC designs, recycled ingredients including ocean-bound plastics; zero-emission pickup trucks; glass-front refrigerators (see what you’ve got without opening the door); and even razors made with compostable paper; among others.
As the climate warms, plastic accumulates in oceans, and the clock is ticking on reducing emissions, sustainability is the trend that eclipses all others. More so than a trend, it’s an urgent, existential imperative. It’s not new to us, and we’re committed to innovation that makes our products more sustainable.
"CES was a good trip, and it gave us a sense of the old normal. If you chose not to attend, you had the option again to attend virtually. And if you missed that, a lot of the keynotes, sessions and interviews are teed up here for your on-demand streaming pleasure. Lean back with your UEI remote, and enjoy." - Menno Koopmans
But while CES, in person or virtually, is never just a normal week, it inspires us and drives us to create more innovative technologies that are likely to be all the buzz as we approach next year’s show.