The internet has been buzzing with all the exciting things unveiled at CES 2021. The virtual event was filled to the brim with exciting new gadgets, goodies, and concepts. However, there was a very different tone this year.
Aside from technology, many industry leaders commented on the challenges presented by COVID-19 and how the tech world was directly affected by the pandemic. From transportation to gaming, it is time to take look at some of the most important quotes from CES 2021.
COVID-tech dominated CES 2021 this year
COVID-inspired technology was everywhere this year. Some of the biggest advancements in the tech space came from healthcare driven ideas. Even more interesting, companies way outside the realms of health decided to participate in creating or imagining technology that makes our lives safer.
"...But now that we are well settled into this new normal, we see the need to have a face mask that is safe, social, and sustainable" - Charlie Bolton, Director of Design, Razer Inc.
Razer's Project Hazel had CES buzzing this year. The self-proclaimed, "World's Smartest Mask," is made from sustainable materials that feature a replaceable filtration system that removes at least 95 percent of airborne particles, and of course, RGB lighting. Companies during COVID-19 are repurposing some of their technology and resources to tackle the challenges presented by COVID-19. This was one of the stylish examples.
"We have seen the world struggle during the pandemic. We've seen people lose their loved ones. But, I think we have also seen the best of people during the pandemic — people, businesses, and organizations coming together to innovate tremendously...The pandemic has accelerated healthcare technology." - Jeroen Tas, Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer, Phillips
During the CES 2021 Philips Fireside Chat, representatives from the company discussed the impact of the pandemic on technological innovation, with a specific focus on health. COVID has accelerated a wide range of tech trends from previous years. E-commerce is more important than ever, even within healthcare.
According to Philips, close to 50% of their "personal health revenue" now comes from online channels. Furthermore, virtual care, remote health tracking of patients, and virtual communications among doctors is more important than ever. The technology ecosystem needed to keep all of this going is at the forefront of our culture at the moment. Philips is one of those leaders in telehealth technology.
If you want to see some more tech from CES this year, be sure to stop by 15+ Futuristic Technologies Showcased at CES 2021.
AI is very much a part of our present and future
A lot of the key technologies mentioned throughout CES 2021 share one common thing, artificial intelligence. AI is being used in autonomous vehicles, home robots, televisions, and even in racing. So what can we expect from AI in the coming years? How far along are we in this AI transformation?
"AI is still in its infancy, yet it still has permeated much of the world. It is all around us. Deep learning is taking AI into its next phase. Machines are slowly thinking more like a human." - Kevin Guo, CEO of Hive.
AI is helping to predict better, improve automation, and optimize the existing process. Today we are seeing AI being used to accelerate clinical trials, to stabilize our supply chains, personalize educational content, and entertain us during the pandemic. This is all just the tip of the iceberg, companies are just discovering how to appropriately harness all this data around us. Leaders from Hive, Blackberry, and IBM echoed these sentiments during, The Power of AI conference session, with one caveat. Though AI is a powerful tool, it exists to supplement human ambition, not replace it.
Your home is smarter and more connected than ever
Samsung was another presentation that was on everyone's list. The company has been hard at work trying to create a "better normal for all." With our new home life as their focal point, Samsung gave us a glimpse at how technology is shaping our present and our future.
"Lots have changed since CES 2020. Our world looks different. And many of you have been faced with a new reality, where among other things, your home has taken on a great significance."- Sebastian Seung, President, and Head of Research, Samsung
Every room around your house is expected to get a face-lift, as our homes become more important than ever. Our living rooms might feature 8k televisions connected to beefy AMD or Nvidia graphics cards and transparent rollable LG screens. Our kitchens could include modular refrigerators and Samsung smart appliances.
Your bedroom could include a Virus Risk Indicator by Airthings. Even our shower might feature hydro-powered speakers. All of these technologies will be controlled by "emotion-recognizing robots" that operate as assistants and home companions. Smart technology in the home is just getting smarter.
Laptops are not what they used to be, they are far more powerful and portable, 2021 is going to be a very good year for gamers
Laptops saw a big overhaul this year, as many industry favorites got updated with the latest GPUs and CPUs. Getting your hands on a powerful laptop for work and gaming is now easier than ever.
"At the beginning of 2020, none of us could have imagined what the year would bring, as we navigated the COVID-19 pandemic globally. We know it was a challenging year for everyone. However, it was also a year where we experienced first-hand the increasing importance technology plays in every aspect of our lives. High-performance computing has never been more important." - Lisa Su, CEO, AMD
AMD has disrupted the CPU market, putting some much-needed pressure on its competitor Intel. After a year where accessible computing became a priority at home, AMD decided to take its highly-successful Zen 3 architecture on the road with the upcoming Ryzen 5000 mobile processors. Traditionally cheaper than Intel's CPUs, this new computing tech will put productivity, work, and networking power into the hands of consumers. For you gamers out the new AMD HX-series chips will be equipped with an impressive 8 cores and 16 threads, allowing them to reach clock speeds that range from 4.6-4.8GHz. Intel is seeing some stiff competition.
"Generation after generation ROG has continued to push the cutting edge of technology...This next-gen series of laptops will include the latest Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series graphics...as well as the AMD Ryzen 5000 series." - Shawn Yen Product Management Director of Gaming Business Unit, Asus Republic of Gamers
During one of the more eye-popping laptop presentations, Asus's Republic of Gamers, took viewers into a cyberpunk-themed workshop to showcase their next generation of gaming accessories and laptops. Though gamers are sure to be happy with ROG's diverse new line-up, hearing AMD CPUs were going into all of ROG's latest flagships may have caught people off guard. Intel has consistently dominated the mobile CPU market, until now. Having one of the leading gaming-laptop manufacturers integrate AMD hardware into their laptops, is a big deal.
Rightly so, as we have mentioned before, AMD's 5000 series is impressive. What does this mean for gamers? Powerful gaming laptops are now more accessible than ever. Intel and AMD's continued competition is only going to heighten that rivalry. The consumer wins. On the GPU side of things, Asus's ultra-portable laptop, the ROG Flow X13, can be equipped with small but powerful external 30 series graphics, for when you need an extra boost in power.
The future of mobility is autonomous and electric
Electrification and autonomy were two major themes that permeated discussions at CES 2021. EVs are making their way onto the road. The electrification of vehicles and the growing interconnectedness of technology have led to the creation of a new automotive value chain. However, the path to this new exciting automotive world will be expensive. In a time where the world is still battling the pandemic, what steps are industry leaders taking to overcome the challenges currently facing the sector?
"The EV transformation is well underway. The decade that we are in is going to be a transformative one." - Stephen Carlisle, President of GM North America
Led by the consulting powerhouse, Deloitte, representatives from Continental Automotive Systems Inc., Zero-Emission Transportation Association, and General Motors discussed literal costs and hurdles of bringing electrified interconnected vehicles to market during the CES Automotive Transformation: EVs and Connectivity discussion panel. However, the general consensus was that EV hype will continue to build as the technology improves this decade.
"The EV will be one of the success stories of American manufacturing." - Joe Britton, Executive Director ZETA (Zero Emission Transportation Association)
However, consumers do have some pain points with EVs. First, the average consumer has an overall lack of knowledge about EVs. Things like range anxiety, lifestyle effects, and affordability are still big barriers to entry. Companies like GM propose the industry needs to do a better job at educating consumers on EVs. At the same time, they believe that regulators can provide better incentives for consumers interested in getting rid of their combustion engines and that are interested in stepping behind the wheel of an electric vehicle. This would accelerate innovation within the industry creating a new range of opportunities, especially in manufacturing.
Autonomy is equally disruptive, begging the question of what will mobility look like in the coming years?
"Autonomy is bigger than just our cars." - Joan Muller, CES Moderator
We hear a lot about the future of autonomy and how it will bring the new age of self-driving vehicles. However, autonomy has expanded far beyond just the vehicles that take us to work and back. During the Autonomous Transportation Moves Beyond the Vehicle discussion, Virgin Hyperloop, Aurora, and Caterpillar Inc discuss how they are using autonomous technologies to improve their respective companies.
For example, Autonomy will play an essential part in the future of the Virgin Hyperloop. Autonomy will make hyperloop competitive with mass transit in the future, helping to reduce a range of time-costing factors like “human latency.” The company intends on using autonomy to run future hyperloop networks filled with people, cargo, and goods, creating an autonomous hyperloop ecosystem.
While, the industrial vehicle company, Caterpillar, has spent the past 30 years investing in autonomy. During CES Caterpillar unveiled autonomous mega-trucks the size of a two-story house. These mining trucks not only expedite existing work processes but are part of the company’s goal of safety and making the world a better place.
"How can we offset the job loss of autonomy? It needs to be a thoughtful transition. It will take a joint effort across industries, governments, and relevant stakeholders." - Lia Theodosiou-Pisanelli, Director of Partner Product & Programs
Another important theme around autonomy is job loss. Autonomous systems will take away low-skilled jobs. However, companies like Aurora are working to combat this issue. The automotive, logistics, freight, and mobility company understand that autonomy will eventually replace some of the drivers and workers in their network. To-offset this, Aurora keeps training its drivers, providing them with the skills needed to manage autonomous systems, while collaborating with them to perfect these same autonomous systems. Industry leaders need to actively work towards preparing for this eventual job disruption.
Mobile phones are continuing to evolve
"We have been exploring rolling displays for a while now. Now, they are making their way into real products...We are hoping to see a rollable phone out into the market this year." - Dr. I.P. Park, President & CTO of LG Electronics
If CES 2020 was the year of the foldable display, 2021 was the year of the rollable display. Rollable displays have already appeared on our TVs but they could make their way into our devices. TCL and LG both presented rollable phones during CES. However, the latter could be making its way to market this year. The obvious appeal of a rollable phone is to have a device with a small form factor that can unfurl when you need screen space.
The future is here
CES is always an exciting celebration of current innovation and futuristic concepts that are right around the corner. The virtual format this year was different but was far from exciting. Amid the world's current challenges, the companies continue to push the boundaries of modern tech and improve the quality of life.