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CES 2021 goes all virtual

By CHANG JUN in San Francisco | | Updated: 2021-01-12 13:26
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Health and wellness, 5G, autonomous driving, clean energy and artificial intelligence remain hot in this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which started Monday in Las Vegas as an all-virtual event due to the rampant COVID-19 pandemic.

The new Snapdragon Ride autonomous driving computing system is seen in the trunk of a demo car at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, US, January 5, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The 2.9 million-square-foot exhibition hall is vacant. The number of exhibitors this year has shrunk by more than half compared with last year's 4,419.

Industry heavyweights such as Google, Ford, Toyota and Honda, which occupied much exhibit space in previous years, declined to participate this time.

Still, the 1,967 exhibitors from around the world have brought their disruptive technologies and products, showcasing the spirit of innovation with their tech breakthroughs. Among the lineup are 203 representing China, albeit a fraction of the nearly 2,000 that showed up last year.

One of the highlights this year, according to CES organizers, is that many tech giants have shifted their focus to health, wellness and workplace-safety.

To combat the novel coronavirus and help bring a pandemic-shattered world back to normal, many companies have joined forces with the government to quickly launch much-needed products and services.

Technology can help heal, said Karen Chupka, senior vice-president of the Consumer Technology Association, the sponsor of the CES. “Tech innovations connect us, they can inform us, keep us safe, and yes, help unite us.”

Philips, the Netherlands-based conglomerate, is attempting to redefine the way people seek care outside of hospital settings through interactive, virtual telehealth technologies during COVID-19.

The immersive patient-doctor digital collaboration enables at-risk individuals to avoid contracting the virus while still engaging in teledentistry and receiving virtual care and treatment at home.

Google, in an effort to alleviate mental stress of veterans during the pandemic, is launching a website that monitors emotional and mental well-being around the clock.

On Wednesday, US Food and Drug Administration representatives will discuss how the government will coordinate public and private resources to better tackle a pandemic like COVID-19 in the future.

5G remains one of the buzzwords this year, as Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg in his CES kickoff speech Monday called the mobile technology the “framework of the 21st century”. Vestberg said he believes it is an essential technology now and for the accelerated tech of the future.

5G is expected to benefit the global community by its use in fields such as telemedicine and tele-education.

Although it's not going to replace 4G infrastructure overnight, 5G is believed to be mainstream in the future and will play an increasingly important role underpinning endpoints — smart gadgets, smart home, autonomous driving and more — in order to provide real-time communications and data transfer.

The pandemic also has prompted changes in the interface between consumer electronics and their users. The trend of more individuals working from home amid the pandemic and beyond requires technology to equip electronics with functions blended for work, home and entertainment use.

The China-based TV manufacturer Hisense on Monday released its new range of laser TV short-throw projectors. According to Hisense vice-president, Fisher Yu, by applying the TriChoma laser tech and the concept of “display everywhere”, Hisense TV now can be transformed to a platform that contains display tech, AiOT (artificial intelligence of things) tech and a cloud service. The screen can be used for remote education, family fitness instruction and gaming.

Smartphone maker Samsung on Thursday will unveil its Galaxy S21 phone, which is expected to be the most powerful smartphone the company has ever released. With an upgraded camera, battery, processor and 5G connectivity, the S21 phone will compete against the Apple iPhone 12 series.

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