•  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The upset that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has brought upon us has been felt across multiple industries and many aspects of our lives. The technology sector is no exception, with multiple tech events scheduled for this year, such as the Mobile World Congress, Google I/O, and Game Developers Conference, all getting canceled. Most of them opted for an online equivalent, and the biggest annual tech conference, CES 2021, is getting in on the trend.

CES goes all-digital

Announced through its Twitter account and website, CES 2021 is confirmed to become a digital event, changing the dates to January 11-14, 2021. This is a first in the event’s 50-year history, which CTA president Gary Shapiro frames as being the “next stage of our evolution”.

The health concerns brought up by the pandemic, and the general unsafe condition of having more than 150,000 people in a single place, is cited as the main reason for the move. Shapiro announced that next year’s CES is moving to an all-digital platform and would provide a distinctive experience to help the exhibitors connect with the audience.

CES 2021 will still adhere to the usual format, now touting a highly personalized experience. The three main parts remain keynotes and conferences, product showcases, meetings, and networking. The four-day schedule follows exclusive media-only access on the first day with conference programming for the rest of the three days. Exhibitor showcases are scheduled concurrently on the 2nd and 3rd day with the conferences. 

Keynote speakers

Since the announcement of the online-only event, there have been three keynote addressers revealed. Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg will do the kick-off keynote. Verizon is known for having the largest 5G testbed in the US, so it makes sense that his discussion will be about the 5G revolution. Applications in telemedicine, distance education, and innovations in next-generation wireless technology are the expected substance of his keynote.

Another confirmed keynote speaker is General Motors’ (GM) Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. Her keynote will focus on GM’s transformational strategy to advance mobility for communities around the world. Advances in electric mobility are expected from her speech.

AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su is also joining the list of CES 2021’s keynote speakers. After unveiling AMD’s newest offerings on their October 8 online announcement video, she’ll take to the stage at CES to present AMD’s vision for computing in the field of research, work, education, and entertainment. She’s also expected to present high-performance solutions for each of these use cases.

As time ticks on up to January 11, more keynote speakers are expected to be announced.

How might this play out?

Although product showcases can be feasibly done via online announcements, CES is more than that. The CTA has not detailed the virtual experience beyond a vague description of a “unique experience,” which it totally will be. To understand how this’ll play out, we can take a quick look at another tech conference that’s been held online – Techfluence from September.

As expected, the majority of the experience will reside in the browser, as with Techfluence. Following a given link, attendees will be greeted with myriad exhibitors and their logos. Menus can be accessed to send you to a booth of your choosing. Most booths will greet you with video pitches, either pre-recorded or live. Replicating someone’s approach to you in real life, a message leading you to a group chat is going to pop if you stay long enough. If you’re interested in learning more, you’ll be led to a live group video chat.

This was the general experience in Techfluence, and we might expect a similar, if not a more  refined, one during next year’s CES.

Conclusion

No company has been confirmed or leaked to be exhibiting in this all-new format of CES 2021. However, formal invitations are expected to come through this fall. CES 2021 may not have been the first online-only event, but as the biggest global tech conference, many eyes will be looking at this event, potentially the whole world. 

Although this move will affect the economy in Las Vegas, where CES is usually held, the challenges presented by these circumstances will be new. If it goes well, this could be the precedent for CES 2022, which is planned to be a hybrid physical-virtual experience.

0
0