Will they or won’t they?
With the Omicron variant pushing the number of Covid-19 infections higher than at any point in the pandemic, the tech world is waiting to see if CES 2022 really will go ahead in person in Las Vegas next week. While a number of major exhibitors — including Google, Intel, GM, Mercedes Benz, Microsoft, chipmaker AMD, and PC manufacturer MSI — have announced they won’t be sending employees in-person to what’s ordinarily the world’s largest tech show, the event’s organizers insist that CES 2022 will take place as scheduled.
Whether in-person or online, this year’s CES will offer a first peek at some of the most important trends and products that tech companies big and small will be pushing in the coming year. Here are three huge areas to watch at CES in January — and (probably) in real life, too.
Transportation and mobility
Engineers from 19 universities will spend the entire week battling it out in the Indy Autonomous Challenge, which organizers are calling the first-ever high-speed race featuring autonomous cars. The spectacle is designed to encourage breakthroughs that, “speed the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles… and driver-assistance systems,” according to a report in Robotics and Automation News.
While there's a tremendous amount of excitement surrounding several companies that make autonomous vehicles and technologies to support them, it’s looking like 2022 will be all about electric vehicles. General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra is scheduled to kick off the show with a keynote address where she'll introduce the company's new line of electric vehicles, and Toyota seems poised to announce more details about its ambitious commitment to introduce 30 new EV models by 2030.
But it may be BMW that steals the show with two big announcements. The German carmaker is scheduled to debut its new all-electric iX M60 SUV. Industry publication BMWBlog reports the vehicle will boast 611 horsepower and allow drivers a range of up to 350 miles. That would make it one of the most attractive electric options on the market... if you’ve got plenty of cash to drop. And for the indecisive, BMW will unveil a car that changes color. The company said in a press release that its exhibit will include, “the first-ever demonstration of a technology that changes the exterior color of a vehicle with the touch of a button.” It’s unclear what exactly the new tech is or how it will be displayed, so check back for updates soon after the show begins.
It’s not just the cars themselves that will be unveiled on the CES floor. Plenty of companies will be showing off infrastructure and support technologies that are necessary to make the transition to a nation that contains many more electric vehicles. EV charging station company Blink will unveil seven new products, and a company called Integrated Roadways will be talking up its “Smart Pavement,” which can charge EVs as they drive and provide wireless connectivity to vehicles on the road. The company has already installed some of its roadways in Denver.
Finally, Hyundai will unveil what it hopes will be an entirely new category of mobility product. The company is marketing its new four-wheeled robot — MobED — as a modular “platform” to help users with, well, whatever it is they need to move. A promotional video from the company shows MobED delivering packages, carrying a baby stroller, positioning a screen so a person exercising on a rowing machine can see it, and ferrying a precariously stacked pyramid of champagne glasses (its suspension system is apparently quite good).
In a nod to the importance of transportation at the event, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is slated to address attendees on Thursday afternoon.
AI will make a big impression at CES this year, with vendors showing off products in nearly every category that purport to use AI algorithms to solve an extraordinarily wide range of problems. Some exhibitors are using AI to help professionals do their jobs more effectively. For instance, Advanced Symbolics says its AI-driven product, Ask Polly, will make it incredibly easy for companies to predict what consumers are going to want to buy in the future. The company will offer some attendees a sneak peek at the beta version at a press conference on Tuesday.
However, most of the AI-enabled products are meant for consumers, including those who want to use the latest tech to stay healthy.
Several companies in the medical technology space will introduce products that combine all kinds of sensors with AI programs to detect medical problems. Korean firm iMediSynch, for instance, will unveil what it claims is the first-ever wireless EEG. The company’s CEO says its device needs just ten minutes to, “assess the condition of [a user’s] brain and [identify] dysfunctionalit[ies],” which could help users diagnose problems at a very early stage. At a press conference before the official start of the show, a company called OMRON will show data it claims as proof that its remote patient monitoring system and related devices are, “making measurable strides [toward] eliminating heart attack and stroke.”
AI-enabled health tech isn’t just for humans. Multiple companies are showing off gizmos that promise to alert pet owners when something is wrong with their dog or cat. For example, pet tech company PurrSong is likely to unveil an AI-enabled healthcare service that uses information from its other products — a robotic litterbox, an automatic water dispenser, and a feline fitness tracker — to detect health abnormalities in cats. A separate company makes similar claims about its new biometric, neural network-equipped collar, this one for dogs. Pet tech company TTcare will unveil an app that it claims can detect veterinary health issues based on photos of an animal’s eyes or other body parts.
Of course, it wouldn’t be CES without new TVs. And computers. And maybe even some phones (though most of those big announcements will probably come at the Mobile World Conference in February). One of the reasons TVs are such an important part of CES is that tech specs only tell a small part of the story when it comes to determining how impressive a particular advancement or new technology really is. One of the advantages of an in-person trade show is that all the new models are available to be directly compared.
LG — one of the biggest exhibitors at CES — is bringing its new line of OLED TVs to Vegas. Like all OLED screens, these use a thin layer of organic material to produce both light and color from a single diode. The company says the new generation offers screens that are 30 percent brighter and even sharper than before. What’s the secret? Deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen that includes a neutron and a proton. The new TVs also boast a brand new algorithm that apparently predicts what each diode will be asked to display before it even receives the signal, based on an individual's personal viewing habits.
Samsung is also expected to unveil a new generation of TVs. Their models will probably combine OLEDs with quantum dot technology the company has been developing for quite some time. Other television manufacturers, including Sony and TCL, are also expected to unveil new products, but details on those models remain hard to come by.
Whether it's in-person or entirely online, CES 2022 is going to be big. There are more than 2,000 companies exhibiting products across three separate sites, including an area dedicated entirely to space tech! Many companies that attend — especially the big ones — like to keep a few secrets to unveil at the show itself, so be sure to keep up with Interesting Engineering's coverage of CES 2022.