The five tech trends to watch at CES

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is an annual indicator of the state of the world of technology, allowing analysts to see which direction the industry is going. 

Walk the halls of the giant event, which typically attracts more than 170,000 guests, and it’s easy to see the emergence of trends such as the connected home or technology for the elderly.

But this year, there won’t be any halls to walk around. Instead, CES has gone virtual and shifted its exhibitors and talks to an online event. Despite this, there are already a series of clear trends emerging that show how technology businesses are tailoring their products to the future.

Giant high definition televisions to watch films on at home

One of the industries that was most affected by the pandemic was the cinema world. Big screens have closed with major releases such as the Borat sequel and Disney’s Mulan premiering on streaming services rather than in cinemas.

Major film releases like Disney's Mulan have been moved to streaming services

Credit: Disney

CES 2021 will see a series of announcements of new high definition televisions, with companies hoping that customers will decide to upgrade their current televisions following a rise in home entertainment consumption during lockdown.

LG, Samsung and Sony are all set to announce new 4K and 8K high definition televisions next week. This year, there’s a stronger focus on giant televisions which are sized up to 110-inch screens. What better way to experience a film at home by upgrading to installing a wall-sized television in your living room?

The rise of working from home technology

In previous years office equipment has taken a backseat at CES compared to flashier technology, but CES 2021 is due to be the year when everyone is interested in the latest ways to work from home.

Manufacturers such as Acer, Asus and Lenovo are all planning to announce new laptops at CES, with an emphasis on portability. Working from home can mean working from the kitchen, bedroom or living room, so companies are preparing to unveil lightweight devices that can easily be carried around the house.

Acer is also hoping to persuade home workers to shell out for its new $900 (£663) Nitro gaming display, handy for working from home and then playing video games once the day is over.

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Continued interest in smart cars

Visit any technology conference in the world and you’re almost certain to come across a car parked in an exhibitor booth along with various signs explaining that this car is “smart” and hooked up to the internet.

CES 2021 is going to be virtual, but the dream of smart cars is still very much alive. The conference will see a virtual talk from the chief executive of General Motors as well as a series of announcements from companies producing automotive technology.

Smart Eye, a Swedish technology company, will show off its new aftermarket driver monitoring equipment that can be installed in cars to track whether drivers are becoming drowsy. The company is fitting cameras in cars loaded with software that alert a driver if they might not be safe to carry on driving.

Carmakers themselves are also getting involved in the smart car trend. Mercedes-Benz will use CES 2021 to unveil its new Hyperscreen product, a 56-inch screen that will be placed in the cabin of its new EQS electric car. The screen will be used to show information to the driver as well as to let the passenger in the car watch films as they travel.

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Everything will eventually be hooked up to 5G

Having a 5G smartphone in your pocket might not make a massive difference to your life at the moment, likely resulting in marginally faster downloads speeds. 

But as 5G networks are built across the world in coming years and more devices are released that are hooked up to the technology, the benefits of 5G are likely to become clear. You’ll be able to have everything you own connected to the internet, able to stream data no matter where you are.

The agenda will be set in the CES 2021 opening keynote by Verizon chief executive Hans Vestberg who will discuss “5G as the framework of the 21st century.”

Many products due to be unveiled at CES 2021 will come with 5G connectivity built-in. Lenovo is releasing a new 5G laptop, meaning you’ll be able to easily hold high definition video calls from the park or on a train.

But analysts are still waiting for the real torrent of 5G devices. “Despite the hype, I expect very few consumer products (maybe a couple of 5G-enabled laptops) to be announced at CES,” Forrester principal analyst Thomas Husson writes.

The rise of robots in the office and in the home

LG's new UV robot

Credit: LG

A future where humans work alongside robots has long been the subject of science fiction movies and books, but it seems to be closer than ever.

This year, the virtual conference will be filled with announcements of robots for your home and workplace. Customers have gotten used to devices like robotic hoovers and businesses are hoping that they’re now ready to embrace even more automation.

LG will announce a new robot that can wheel itself along the halls of offices, schools and other buildings to disinfect surfaces using ultraviolet light. The robot will be able to irradiate all of the surfaces in a room in between 15 and 30 minutes, LG has said.

There are also many companies unveiling robots for the household at CES. Technology business Embodied will unveil its Moxie robot, a $1,500 companion for children that can teach them using an inbuilt dictionary and can also be their companion.

CareClever will also unveil its Cutii robot designed to prevent loneliness in the elderly. The robot includes a large screen so that the elderly can use it to make calls with relatives who may not be able to visit them due to the ongoing pandemic.

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