Every year, CES attracts the hottest and wackiest consumer tech from across the globe to converge in a week-long showcase of the future. From new mobility to the metaverse, digital health, home products, and beyond.
Here are some of the highlights from CES 2023:
EV Concepts : Sedan Renaissance
The race to deliver EV solutions and infrastructure continues to electrify the air around mobility.
For one thing, the sedan is not dead. Indeed, the sedan is the darling of the EV industry, as was evident in these noteworthy debuts: Peugeot Inception, BMW I Vision Dee, and VW ID.7, Lightyear 1 (unique in that it is solar powered), and the Afeela EV. While American OEMs were trending away from developing new sedans, the future of EV looks like it comes with 4 doors!
EV Concepts : Ram 1500 Revolution
While not a sedan, we have to give major credit to RAM’s 1500 Revolution EV concept with its thoughtful features targeting the rugged working individual. With saloon doors, a powered midgate with movable 3rd row seating, a floor track system allowing easy re-configuration of the cabin to allow up to 18ft of cargo length, “follow me” AV feature, plus all the bells and whistles of a mobile office, this truck delivers the tools to get the job done with fun on the side.
EV Concepts: Marine Vehicles
The EV revolution is also reaching the marine industry. Candela brought its showstopping EV hydrofoil boat to CES captivating attendees with its understated elegant body, and novel experience. It’s already in production in Sweden! Meanwhile, Mercury debuted a line of EV motors along with the Fathom e-power system which doubles as a diesel generator storing power in an onboard battery platform creating alternative electricity supply for onboard utilities.
Software Defined Vehicles
After conceptual smart cities dominated three to four years ago at CES, now the realized potential of mobile shuttles for people and payload was everywhere at every scale. Small e-bikes and large passenger vehicles alike came to the show with customer deployments already underway.
Modular corners including in wheel motors, suspension, steering and braking, plus battery platforms from numerous vendors means anyone can quickly become an OEM now.
Now that barriers to building a new vehicle from the ground up are at an all time low, many mobility players are targeting the commercial small to medium delivery sector, and this is leading to proliferation of multi-party partnerships to deliver all the pieces of the experience. Our question is who are end consumer service providers? Who are actually the customers? With so many stacked or blended manufacturers, OEMs, and digital servicers, the revenue streams in this equation will be interesting to figure out.
While connectivity, AV, and SaaS platforms were plentiful, there seems to be wide-spread difficulty in establishing clear and concise messaging to communicate the function and value proposition of each service in relationship to the larger ecosystem. Companies seeking to communicate the value of their mobility SaaS range from overwhelming the customer with tech speak, to dumbing it down to a buzzword soup. This lack of reciprocal understanding between SaaS providers, Tier 1s and OEMs, exacerbated by the speed of new development, is limiting industry coherence and progress toward implementation.
Blackberry QNX however is a great example of a company focused on enabling coherence within the cacophony of connected vehicle tech. They have developed a unifying software layer that enables 3rd party mobility software to talk to each other through open APIs.
Pressing issues of food production volumes for growing populations were addressed at CES with increasing fidelity. Technologies for indoor (80 Acre Farms, Agrist), vertical (The New Rise Garden), and even underwater farming (Nemo’s Garden) were showcased in partnership with blockchain players like Siemens for tracking carbon emissions. Agrist’s pepper-picking robot uses AI to determine when an individual pepper is ripe for harvest. John Deere is on a green-streak with yet another robotic and AI enabled solution debuted at CES. This one is a planting solution that lays down individual seeds at precisely the right spacing, at speed, while also praying each seed with the correct amount of fertilizer.
Metaverse and VR
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality startups are making breakthroughs with 4D sensory experiences. Yes, this includes the full suite of haptic body gear like the vest, and gloves from bHaptics, and full-body tracking device by Shiftall. But this year, startups like OVR took the 4D experience into a new realm of spatial smell where a VR rose in your hand will smell stronger the closer you put it to your nose! Some VR technology was also being applied to empower differently abled communities and create accessible solutions, like Panasonic’s AR glasses that can identify hazards for individuals with low vision.
Patients can look forward to a future of less blood samples, endoscopy, and other uncomfortable procedures and have their biometrics collected and measured by simply peeing into the toilet bowl! Companies like Vivoo and Withings debuted solutions for measuring and monitoring insane amounts of health indicators just through urine. Startup Bioxonics Inc. showcased a diagnostic device that delivers accurate information on dementia indicators from a blood sample, and Abbott’s i-STAT handheld rapid testing device detect brain trauma using just a blood sample.
Home Electronics and Robots
Home appliances continue to blend into the background, only visible when needed, like LG’s wireless TV and transparent display TV, both unveiled at the show.
Across the board, appliances are also expanding their ability to communicate with each other and homeowners, we well as complete tasks by themselves. Samsung’s AI wall oven self-programs according to the recipe, gives you a live feed from inside the oven, and detects possible burning so you can set it and forget it.
Robots designed to help out around the house, especially for the “silver” population and individuals with limited mobility, achieved new levels of actual helpfulness this year, exemplified in Aeo from Aeolus, and Labrador, a startup from the AARP AgeTech Accelerator. Other robots make life easier from taking care of the cat litter (Whisker) to snow-blowing and mowing (Yarbo).
Home Monitoring and Management
Energy monitoring and control solutions for the home were launched across consumer brands. Samsung’s SmartThings app connects not only Samsung products, but an impressive host of 3rd party smart devices, making it even easier for homeowners to implement sustainable, efficient, and connected functionality in their home. Schneider Electronics also showcased their newly launched Wiser home energy management app solution and expanded Touch Wiring Devices.
Moen is beginning to frame themselves as not just a provider of home water fixtures, but as a strategically positioned manufacturer of sustainable solutions for water conservancy, resiliency, and monitoring. Their Smart Sprinkler Controller unit adapts watering schedules and water volumes according to the local weather forecast and can retrofit easily onto existing sprinkler systems. We’re excited to see how Moen continues to embrace these possibilities in their brand identity and product portfolio.
Kohler is embracing a role to reclaim peace and mental health in a post-pandemic world through the power of water experiences. To this end, they launched a new brand at CES called Sprig that pairs the benefits of aromatherapy with people’s daily shower, augmenting self-care without adding extra steps to their busy day.
Space tech continues to enjoy increasing investment and momentum. We saw a number of application-ready technologies for exploring space, space tourism, and even filming in space. The Smart Tire Company caught the attention of CES by showcasing their shape-memory alloy tire technology for lunar vehicles. These tires are made of wire mesh that can deform freely to grip rocks and terrain while using its shape-memory properties to snap back to its original shape.
The Sustainability Conversation
It’s exciting to see the extent to which conversations on sustainability were at the forefront of CES 2023. There was genuine urgency and importance placed on the topic in all industry segments.
On the critical side, the generic statements, unclear impact and repetitive points in so many companies’ messaging on their sustainability goals makes it hard to decipher what each company is actually doing for their scope 1-3 emissions. On the whole it seems companies are able to get a “pass” by touting a few marketing taglines and making sure they look like everyone else, yet there’s no easy way to tell who is authentic, and no concrete information presented beyond lofty net zero goals in 15 years.
Recognizing that no rate of progress on sustainability goals can be considered good enough, it’s worth tempering the critique above with the observation that out of the products presented at CES, a much greater percentage were designed to support sustainable lifestyles, systems, and use cases. This was evident in the number of fleet management systems created to increase vehicle and battery longevity through predictive maintenance and energy optimization, and software services to accurately track and minimize operational emissions. Household products were actively developed to use less energy and work efficiently. Robots and AIs were developed to minimize wasted resources and decrease farming footprint. There was also a surprisingly strong presence of accessibility solutions from laptop accessories to AR glasses, ridesharing, TV optics and more.
CES 2023 Wrapped
Over the past three years, companies have been busy. They’ve been hustling to pivot existing solutions to the new normal, define their visions for a post- pandemic future, and invest in R&D of new technologies and products. From what we saw and heard at CES 2023, now is the moment when we see the pendulum begin to swing back toward near-term realization. The dialogue between industry players has evolved to: “We have the solutions, now how do we implement at scale, and put it all together with our partners and ecosystem.” Interoperability will be the next frontier. How we create coherence and positive human experiences out of an eruption of new technologies will be the next challenge for innovators across industries.
One thing is for sure, the amount of bold and earnest labor going into creating a more coherent, hopeful, and sustainable future can’t be understated. We’re looking forward to seeing the fruit that labor next year at CES!
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