In our annual CES wrap report, we share the most significant trends and takeaways from the biggest tech event of the year.
While one of the biggest (and oldest – over 50 years) technology events in the world was set to return to its traditional in-person format, the pandemic forced a pivot to a simultaneous online and in-person offering, with 2,200 physical exhibitors across 44 tech categories, including new CES categories like space tech and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). 150 companies marked their attendance as “digital-only.”
We’ve identified eight key themes from this year’s event and go into detail about how each impacts brands:
1. CONNECTIVITY – EMBRACING A META WORLD
Today we are a ways away from the metaverse we’ve been promised. Faster broadband speeds, always-on online worlds, and better headsets will likely be needed for wider adoption. In the meanwhile, the metaverse(s) evolution will bring with it conversation around the ethics of VR and AR (especially as it pertains to content/data privacy access), as well as the ethics around crypto’s role in the metaverse, and general user behaviors as the online and real-worlds continue to blend.
2. RETAIL & EXPERIENCES – THE ‘RETAILTAINMENT’ RENAISSANCE
2022 will be the year of retailtainment, merging on and offline experiences with an overall sense of enveloped entertainment. Engaging retail offerings no longer means a digitally optimized eCommerce experience, nor a hands-on in-store experience; it means every physical, digital, emotional, tactile touchpoint requires both experience and entertainment.
3. FUTURE OF WORK – FLUCTUATING FLUIDITY
For many industries we’ve passed the point of no return; consumers have moved and acclimated their lives to remote and flex work. There’s a lot of opportunity for brands to uncover and alleviate emerging frictions, new ways of working, and all the facets of work that have changed – like conferences, meetings, networking, collaborating – will bring. Flexibility will be required to meet both industry and employee demands.
4. BEAUTY & WELLNESS – CRAVING CONTROL IN CHAOS
The last two years have taught us that not only is it critical to take care of yourself, but also how critical it is to take control of managing your wellness – both mental and physical – instead of relying on external sources. CES showcases companies touting technologies that bring experiences traditionally done outside the home into the home with new levels of intimacy thanks to utilizing AI and AR for customization rarely received in the finest of salons and studios.
5. SMART HOME – HOME IS WHERE THE HEART (AND INVESTMENT) IS
We have been kept at home more than ever, which has transformed homes into multihyphened spaces (e.g., school-office-restaurant-bar), driving increased demand for efficiency and comfort within the home. With people spending more time at home, and while often more physically distanced from the ones they care about (and for), multi-use robots offer the potential to not only provide entertainment, but also companionship and healthcare monitoring.
6. CONTENT CREATORS – PURISTS & TOURISTS
In 2021 we saw brands, technologies, and investors throw more money and resources at content creators than ever – even in the B2B space. As decentralized opportunities, like the metaverse and NFTs, give content creators more opportunity to own and monetize their digital IP and content, we’ll see more ways to drive value from creator partnerships for brands and creators.
7. HEALTHCARE – COMMANDING CONTROL
The pandemic uncovered plenty of cracks in the healthcare system’s foundations, as stressed systems proved an unmet need to monitor vital data seamlessly and remotely. Not only are smartwatches and connected medical devices increasingly becoming a part of consumers’ regimens, but also connected clothing, voice tech, biosensors, and other integrated technologies designed to monitor, manage, create momentum when it comes to personal health, family, chronic, and transitional care management.
8. NFT’S & CRYPTO – FUN OR FUTURE?
NFTs will continue to attempt a move towards the mainstream, with plenty of platforms‘ support. Understanding how NFTs can drive real value for brands will enable you to understand how they can be utilized to disrupt your own industry. Whether or not you believe NFTs have a major role to play in the future of brands or are simply branded stunts and a bubble bound to burst, keep in mind that this is also about understanding digitalization of IP and value.
Our full report looks at some of the devices we may be using in the coming years and provide plenty of inspiration as to how the tech trends of the coming year may play out.