Connected service and chip shortages to dominate CES 2022

Masked up consumer electronics show hit by exhibitor withdrawals as Covid-19 cases surge

Gregoire Bussiere uses Baracoda Daily Healthtech’s BCool, a battery-free thermometer during the CES Unveiled Las Vegas at the 2022 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Photograph: Caroline Brehman/EPA

Connected services, 5G, the metaverse and the ongoing chip shortage look set to dominate the technology landscape throughout 2022, the annual Consumer Electronic Show (CES) technology conference heard.

Software and services are becoming increasingly linked to hardware for consumers, said Steve Koenig, vice-president of research at the Consumer Technology Association which hosts CES, with the average consumer paying for eight different online services. That number is likely undercounted, he said, with anecdotal evidence that younger users are adopting even more services.

“Our lives are increasingly defined by technology, and technology itself is increasingly defined by software and, by extension, services,” said Mr Koenig, pointing to connected fitness products such as Peloton as an example, along with streaming video services such as Disney+.

Franck Glaizal, chief executive and co-founder, demonstrates the Airxom mask for active protection from the effects of air pollution, bacteria, and viruses including Covid-19 during CES Unveiled ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Photograph: Patrick Fallon / AFP via Getty Images
Eric Fouchard, president of NewPadMaker, demonstrates the aeronest mask ventilation kit during CES Unveiled ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Patrick Fallon / AFP via Getty Images

“We’ve witnessed an abundance of innovation across this whole season and certainly over the past year,” he said.

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Supply chains

Mr Koenig also touched on the "elephant in the room" during his address, examining the ongoing issues for supply chains. It was an economy-wide problem, he said, showing attendees a photograph of cars parked at the speedway in Kentucky awaiting chips. However, the risks were more severe for small and medium-sized companies that may not be able to weather the storm as robustly as larger enterprises.

“Everyone is dealing with supply chain issues,” he said. “No one is saying this is going to unwind or unravel any time soon. This is going to be with us. But at least some of these shipping costs are coming down, which is good news certainly for small- and medium-sized businesses.”

CES officially opens its doors on Wednesday, with around 2,000 exhibitors taking part. Masks and proof of vaccination are required at the show.

After a virtual event in 2021, CES returned as an in-person conference for 2022, although it hasn’t been smooth sailing for organisers. Much of the event is also being streamed online as soaring Covid-19 cases have hampered travel for attendees.

The event is using software developed by Web Summit for its own events to stream keynotes and conference sessions to attendees across the world until its closure on January 7th.

CES has already cut a day from its schedule, after companies including Amazon. com and General Motors dropped out of attending the Las Vegas event in person due to Omicron concerns.

“The step was taken as an additional safety measure to the current health protocols that have been put in place for CES,” the Consumer Technology Association said.

A number of other firms including Advanced Micro Devices, Procter & Gamble, Alphabet Google and Facebook parent, Meta Platforms, have also dropped their in-person plans. Sony Electronics has limited staffing and attendees at the event. Overall, expected exhibitors are down more than half to roughly 2,200 from the last in-person CES.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist