An On-the-Ground Look Inside CES 2022

Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place this year from January 5-7. This year’s edition has represented an important comeback for perhaps the most influential convention in the global tech industry, as this was the first time in two years that the event moved away from digital venues and returned to be held in person in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Last year’s CES was held completely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid a surge of the omicron variant in the preparing stages of CES 2022, controversies arose as to whether it should stay in its online format, as CTA President and CEO Gary Shapiro expressed confidence and determination to bring the event back in person.

The result was the backing out of many firms from physical attendance, including big names like T-Mobile, Google, Amazon, Meta, Twitter, Pinterest and General Motors. The total number of attendees also shrunk from 171,268 in 2020 to a mere 45,000 this year. Thanks to a combination of digital and physical exhibition spaces, however, many were still able to enjoy the variety of cool tech CES had to offer from the comfort of their homes.

I had the opportunity to attend the event in person this year on behalf of Pandaily. Despite the significant scale of exhibition spaces, the venues were quite visibly empty, as attendance was only limited to technology and press affiliates. The event was also cut short by one day due to public health concerns.

Exhibitors that chose to attend still put their best foot forward to showcase their newest concepts and designs. Highlights of the show range from automotive technology and home electronics to entertainment and healthcare, all signaling the inseparable nature of lifestyle from the development of technology in the long run.

BMW, for example, unveiled its first-ever color-changing car – the iX Flow – at CES 2022. The booth was displayed right outside the main exhibition hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). Without knowing what it entailed, I happened to have caught a glimpse of the model during lunchtime, and after being dazed by the sun just a little, I witnessed the car turn into a completely different color.

BMW’s color-changing car, the iX Flow, on exhibit at CES 2022 (Source: The Verge)

It turned out I wasn’t imagining anything. The company made use of the E-Ink technology prevalent in e-readers like the Amazon Kindle to change the car’s color between black, white, and shades of gray, by manipulating electric fields to shift the negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments contained in microcapsules on the car’s exterior.

Among the automotive concepts on display, Sony’s new VISION-S 02 was one of the most eye-catching. The SUV-type EV was the second prototype vehicle Sony brought to the audience of CES after surprising everyone with its four-seater prototype, the VISION-S 01, at CES 2020. The company also announced the launch of their new branch “Sony Mobility Inc.,” as the first step to officially enter the EV market in the spring of 2022. Sony has certainly shown its ability to drop surprises this time around, as, among other things, it also decided to bring actor Tom Holland to its press conference before the opening day in secret.

Sony’s VISION-S 02 (left) and VISION-S 01 (right). (Source: Sony)

Similar to Sony, Hisense also occupied an impressively large exhibition space in the central hall. The area was mostly devoted to showcasing its premium product lineup, including Laser TVs, projectors, soundbars, and the new ULED series. The purpose of displayed products also went beyond entertainment into educational and medical applications.

The west hall of the LVCC was just as exciting, as we got to see many more applications for robotics both within household settings and beyond. China-based Roborock, for example, has introduced AI and LiDAR technologies into the 3D-mapping of its newest S7 MaxV Ultra robot vacuum to realize a high level of precision for autonomous cleaning.

Meanwhile, South Korea-based Doosan Corporation attracted attention with its drum-playing collaborative robots. The booth was centered on hydrogen production and utilization technologies, highlighting applications such as the eco-friendly powering of drones and electric loaders. On the other side of the hall, Hyundai Heavy Industries showcased its visions for intelligent maritime mobility and fully autonomous construction sites through the commercialization of smart robots.

One of the most important trends at CES 2022, however, seemed to be the implementation of mixed/virtual reality technologies that construct experiences of the metaverse. The booth of LOTTE Data Communication Company consisted of a virtual concert hall, where attendees could engage in an interactive VR concert, and a metaverse retail space by its subsidiary Caliverse, both making use of VR headsets.

LOTTE Data Communication Company at CES 2022 (Source: Pandaily)

The metaverse experience at the Hyundai Motors booth was even more immersive, as attendees stepped into a separate space to interact with their virtual counterparts after having their avatars generated at the entrance. Even though such processes were still far from seamless, the abundance of interactive elements certainly had the potential to prompt participants to ponder the possibilities and boundaries of both real and virtual worlds.

SEE ALSO: The Beginning of Mass-Producible LiDARs: An Interview with Hesai Technology CEO at CES 2022

CES plans to return in full swing to Las Vegas from January 5-8, 2023, as we wait to be inspired by more new and exciting ideas. By then, it does not seem unlikely that some of the craziest examples from this year’s edition will have already been able to make their way into our lives.