Top 6 trends to watch for at CES 2021

Find out what big tech news is expected at the all-digital CES 2021 this week.

This year’s CES is all virtual, but there will still be plenty of cool technology on display during the event, which runs from Jan. 11-14.

Last year at CES 2020, there were 4,419 exhibiting companies and 171,268 attendees. This year, there’s less than half that number of exhibitors, with 1,967, and many companies that take up a lot of exhibit space such as Google, Ford, Toyota, Honda and Blackberry aren’t even participating in CES 2021. The companies that are participating however, will be showcasing lots of innovative new products despite the event’s all-digital format.

TechRepublic’s Editor-in-Chief Bill Detwiler, Associate Managing Editor Teena Maddox and UK Editor-in-Chief Steve Ranger talked to Reporter Karen Roby to discuss the top trends to look for at CES in this most unusual of years.

SEE: Gartner’s top tech predictions for 2021 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Trend 1: Health, wellness and workplace safety

As offices reopen around the world, and vaccinations are made available to everyone, public spaces will reopen at a greater pace. Technology vendors, even ones that have never played in this space before, are introducing products and services to help individuals and companies get back to the new normal safely, Detwiler said.

Ranger said, when it comes to healthcare and wellness, CES 2021 will be a showcase for “how companies think technology will benefit or change society.”

Trend 2: Technology for blending work and personal lives

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Vendors are now designing products that bridge the gap between work and personal lives. People have often used their laptops and phones and tablets for both work and personal, but now there are specific products for that market. “For a year, we’ve been working out of our homes, and that trend probably isn’t going to go away anytime soon for a lot of people,” Detwiler said.

Trend 3: 5G will become more mainstream 

This is one of those trends that isn’t going away anytime soon. Detwiler pointed out, “it’s not going to completely replace our 4G infrastructure anytime soon, but still, 5G is one of those enterprise technologies that underpins a lot of the end points, those smart gadgets, the smart home tech, autonomous cars, telemedicine, all those technologies that are on display at CES need a way to communicate with themselves, with the cloud, and 5G, especially when combined with tech like edge computing really has the potential to provide almost real time communication and data transfer.”

Trend 4: Innovations in how people interact with desktops and laptops

As the pandemic has changed how and where people are working, with many either working fully from home, or mostly from home, people are interacting with their desktops and laptops in new ways. In the past, innovation has been heavily focused on smartphones and wearables. Companies that demonstrate “innovations around making those kinds of interactions better” are showing there is still life left in laptops and PCs, Ranger said.

Trend 5: All about EVs (electric vehicles) and autonomous driving 

This is the year of EVs, with Ford bringing out the new all-electric Mustang, Tesla hitting it’s 500,000 goal on cars manufactured and delivered for 2020, and plenty of other car manufacturers getting on board. The International North American Auto Show was cancelled last year, and it won’t occur until late June this year, so there’s a lot of pent up news from the automotive industry and CES 2021 is the place to let it out, despite some top auto manufacturers not participating in the show, Maddox said.

Several auto accessory makers are debuting heads up displays and other features for consumers. John Deere is introducing an AI and robotics-powered tractor at CES, too.

Trend 6: Mobility news will dominate

Mobile World Congress is usually right around CES time, so big mobility news is saved for that event in Barcelona. Not this year. MWC was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and it’s pushed until June 28 this year. So companies such as Samsung and Motorola are taking advantage of the timing and showcasing their new mobile devices during CES week. Samsung is even holding Samsung Unpacked, with the new Galaxy S21 phone unveiling, on Jan. 14, in the midst of CES 2021. There’s also a plethora of mobility accessories and devices for consumers, Maddox said.

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