The pre-pandemic Consumer Electronic Show was a mammoth event that spanned half of Las Vegas. In the 2020 edition, the last before the contagion blocked the fairs in attendance, there were over 2,200 exhibitors and more than 170,000 visitors, but the numbers do not fully convey the scope of the event. The city’s convention center was almost entirely occupied, with the central, south split-level and north pavilions completely filled with exhibitors and services. Add to this the convention center of The Venetian and at least two other hotels on the Strip, the main street of the new Las Vega full of themed and luxury hotels: the Aria and the Mandalay Bay. Furthermore, there were no suites and hotel rooms rented by companies that did not want to enter the chaos of the pavilions or simply aimed to spend a little less.
To all this, there were dedicated events every afternoon and evening for journalists, investors, startups, buyers and any other category that is part of the Hi-Tech business. Las Vegas, already accustomed to managing large fairs, literally became a hive populated by visitors engaged in a frenetic hunt for technological innovation.
But not this year. Until mid-December it seemed that, after all, the return in person to the most important electronics fair in the world could be almost complete, but Omicron has turned the tables. The super contagious variant of Covid-19 has begun to sow concern and uncertainty, prompting a large number of brands, large and small, to forfeit. In the end, the CES declared 2,300 exhibitors, 40,000 visitors in attendance and 1,800 journalists, but these are numbers that should be taken a bit with a grain of salt.
The boom in exhibitors, in fact, was achieved thanks to the record of national delegations that sponsored the participation of their start-ups in the event, but it is necessary to see how many of these have actually reached the city of vice. The Italian delegation, for example, had to count 44 startups, but only 22 arrived, just as the rate of absences seemed high even among the other nations.
Likely is the declared number of global visitors who in three days (one less than originally planned) walked the corridors that were once very crowded. Since the surface of the event is so vast, the effect was to have ample space available to walk in complete tranquility when in 2020 venturing into the central hall seemed to enter a dense jungle with humans instead of plants.
The number of media representatives, on the other hand, seems to me to be at least optimistic. The press rooms, always crowded with colleagues working in groups, this year were incredibly empty with all kinds of IT and logistic support widely available when in past years it was utopia even just to find a seat near an ethernet socket. In 2020, the Italian newspapers present were just over 20. This year I counted 4.
Still, there was no shortage of news. Indeed, we could say that this was one of the best editions of the CES from the point of view of the contents, despite the defection of many great ones. The sector where we saw the most movement was certainly that of automobiles, where big names presented truly remarkable projects, but the small ones were not far behind, even if in different sectors. Strangely, the whole e-health movement, which was very deserving, has gone under the radar. There were so many interesting projects and some of them really risk revolutionizing the way doctors treat their patients. The giant of simulations Dessault System has created a digital replica of heart and brain able to perfectly reproduce the functioning of each single fiber. Alongside the ability to create digital twins by importing data from an MRI scan, the doctor finds in his hands a very faithful copy of the patient’s organ, to be studied before an operation or which shows exactly the pathology for being able to be better studied and diagnosed even in very difficult cases. Even an Italian startup has proposed something similar, with the creation of digital twins of the organs starting from resonance and even without the simulation part, the benefits in the diagnostic phase are enormous.
That of the metaverse was another very interesting trend, from which, however, all the confusion that currently pervades this sector emerged: companies that promise “the real metaverse” and others that sold useless virtual spaces were flanked by realities that instead organized already spectacular events and sensible, while others propose very captivating neuronal technologies capable of recreating incredibly realistic tactile sensations. A real step towards what we have read and seen in Ready Player One.
So, this and many other interesting content wasted time? Incredibly, no. The exhibitors are mostly very happy with their experience at CES 2022. The real discriminant of satisfaction, in reality, seems to be to act in a sector of the most “in vogue” of the moment. “Time wasters stayed at home” was the most common comment I picked up. For both local US and international exhibitors, the mantra has always been the same: “we had fewer contacts than in the past, but of much higher quality on average”. Those who had a product linked to the trends of the moment did not have a free moment, while those who operated in more consolidated or less “fascinating” sectors nevertheless declared that they had some big contacts that if it were to go through would involve a qualitative leap for the company. own company.
So, better has this CES been better than the one in years past? Not necessarily. I find it very difficult to compare two such different editions. For sure, the lack of so many big brands weighed heavily on the end result that could have been epic. LG’s empty stand, populated only by QR codes that were used to see the products in a virtual way, perfectly represented the sense of incompleteness of this edition, but in the end I liked CES 2022 a lot. Less crowded, more focused, with very interesting themes and trends and a smaller area that allowed me to shoot it all. But we hope that next year they can all be there.