Was it worth to travel to the reduced CES during Covid times? For me, a clear YES. I found a lot of surprising innovations and inspiring contacts. Of course, the difference to normal times (or is this the new norm?) was visible everywhere. Less than 25% of the 2020 visitor volume; a third of the major-hall floor space was empty, and for the first time ever no transport problems appeared.
I started my CES tour in the quiet North Hall, which was the crowded and loud automotive hall in 2020. This year, robotics, sensors, and software solutions dominated. The greater area of Berlin had a nice combined booth for science and small enterprises—for example, the interesting startup Automotive-AI showed their AV test simulations. Elmos had a display close by in the Westgate Hotel where they presented lighting electronics, gesture recognition, lidar, and a super simple reversing detection including object sorting (drive over or stop) with only four ultrasonic sensors.
In the Central Hall the entertainment and smart home business has still its home turf. Bosch showed some connected mobility technology. Samsung had a huge booth where you had register yourself to a waiting list before entering—my waiting time was 140 minutes even in a half-empty hall!. They had a nice automotive AR (augmented reality) display showing where you could go for shopping, and navigation and warning information were visible in the huge head up display over the whole windscreen. A mood-scanner for driver and passenger, using smart watch and passenger monitoring sensor information, creates a personal mood-related interior environment with several stimulations. Micro LED for TV was demonstrated. Panasonic showed an “Illuminarium” which placed visitors into into a safari experience. HiFi, TV, and mobile phone company Sony had a most surprising booth—learn more about it in this week’s In Depth article.
The walk to the huge new West Hall wended over the nearly empty open-air space. In the far west edge of this plaza BMW had an astonishing display, showing a car named iX Flow which changes its exterior paint colour. The West Hall held most of the automotive exhibitors including OLEDWorks, Docter Optics, and about ten lidar companies you saw in the DVN CES Report last week (did you already download your copy?).
All in all, it was a smaller, quieter CES—yet still big enough to be the biggest tech event on the planet!