Dive into CES 2024's techno-spectacle, from AI marvels to transparent screens, and discover how the latest gadgets could redefine the future of events and beyond.
January in Las Vegas is CES time. One of the world’s largest shows is back in force, taking over Sin City for the last week. This is where many big technology brands and budding startups come to show off their latest gadgets and technology products.
This year organizers Consumer Technology Association celebrated 100 years, originally formed as the Radio Manufacturers Association in 1924. A crowd of more than 135,000 joined the celebrations in Vegas at their main event, CES, up from 115,000 last year. Over 40% of attendees came from outside the U.S., a new record. They explored more than 4,300 exhibitors, including 1,400 startups, in a dedicated area called Eureka Park.
In terms of total attendance, the show is now around three-quarters of the size it was in the years just before the Covid pandemic. Peak attendance was registered in 2017, with just under 185,000 at the show. Still, this represents an impressive recovery, especially when compared to events like Dreamforce and Inbound, which have shrunk considerably. UFI CEO and president Kai Hattendrof, who was at the show, certainly seemed impressed.
Visual Displays Impress
Many technology companies spend big to impress the crowds. The largest stands easily cost millions. Stand designs favored sleek lighting and a mix of high walls and arches as other features that allowed brands to create a more private space and better control how they showcase their products.
While there was plenty of buzz for products at the show, Apple announcing a February 2 release date for its Vision Pro headset may have been the biggest news of all. Apple had no official presence at the show, but this announcement coming during the show days was no coincidence.
Virtual reality and extended reality – Apple calls their headset spatial computing – was one of the big themes throughout the show. Vok Dams CEO Colja Dams was at the show and shared his enthusiasm about this technology in a video shared on LinkedIn.
For those looking for a more static approach to screens, Samsung and LG both showcased transparent screens. While this innovation certainly fits into the category of something no one asked for, it is an impressive technological achievement, one that will no doubt make its way into the most luxurious lounges around the world. As will the C SEED N1C, a giant folding screen that doubles up as a sculpture to save space or create a talking point. It folds out completely in less than 90 seconds, but that comes at a price, with the smallest model costing around $200,000.
Last but not least are the 3D holographic screens. Holoconnects is the latest company to offer the speaker-in-a-box type hologram. Skift Meetings has previously shared similar products from ARHT and Proto. One interesting addition is the option to join several units to make one larger display.
AI Everywhere at CES
AI was naturally a core selling point of many products on display. Walmart’s CEO and president, Doug McMillon, revealed details on its generative AI-powered search functions created in partnership with Microsoft. He was joined on the keynote stage by Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella. The retail giant is bullish on creating a new type of conversational and predictive search on its website and mobile apps.
Perhaps the most intriguing AI-powered technology at CES 2024 was the R1 Rabbit AI Assistant. Somewhat similar to the equally intriguing Humane Ai Pin, this is a standalone hardware device that challenges the smartphone focus of most companies. The AI-powered handheld device sold out four runs of 10,000 units since being unveiled during a keynote on stage by founder and CEO Jesse Lyu. It impressed the audience when it was able to carry out tasks that Siri or Google Assistant would struggle with. The low price of $199 and lack of subscription charges are also appealing.
AI-powered instant translation is not new, but the X1 AI Interpreter Hub offers a new take as a standalone device that can be used in a variety of different ways. It can also pair up using multiple devices, each operating in a different language, therefore adapting from one-on-one meetings to multinational conferences of up to 20 people.
Ensuring people with different speech abilities can communicate effectively is the objective of Wispp. This AI-powered assistive voice app helps those with a voice disability to recreate their voice. It’s an impressive tool that can change the lives of many.
While not directly event-related there were several products showcased at CES 2024 that could yet impact the events sector. Robot baristas, making everything from frothy cappuccinos to fancy cocktails, have raised the eyebrows of the hospitality world. One popular device showcased was the Barsys, which promises to bring the art of crafting cocktails into any home.
The latest in cleaning robot technology could also be inching us towards machines taking the jobs of hospitality workers, although these robots are not going to be making beds or cleaning toilets any time soon. Nevertheless, the LA Times reported that casino union workers now fear for their jobs based on the latest tech seen at the show.
One tool that may just make its way into a myriad of virtual presentations is the iVi. This device, created by ophthalmologist Dr. Graham Barrett, seeks to help virtual presenters connect digitally by keeping eye-to-eye contact.
The device is a sort of teleprompter with a multifunctional video screen option. It also features a 4K camera, dedicated microphone, and speakers, all connected via a single USB-C cable. Priced at $1,495, it will only be for more serious speakers or perhaps a good option for a dedicated presentation room at an office. It certainly beats having multiple cables to connect and devices to deal with.
Keeping with the theme of technology tangential to events, CES 2024 also showcased:
- A new range of electric grills (Current) that can heat up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to sear meat.
- A mask (Skyted) that both mutes speech and creates a private conversation environment when paired with headphones.
- A sound chair (Xeo Pod) that creates a unique surround sound experience
- A compact retro-styled projector (LG CineBeam Cube)
- A high-end compact projector with Dual Light technology that promises to be brighter and darker than the competition XGIMI HORIZON Ultra
Photo credit: CES 2024 / Consumer Technology Association