…right people – right place – right time!

The Consumer Electronics Show 2021 (CES), its Trends and what’s in it for engineers?

18th January - Valencia.

The CES has traditionally been the go-to Consumer Electronics event which heralds the new innovations from large and small electronics companies which we are likely to see more of over the coming months and normally showcases over 5000 exhibitors. This year, influenced by lockdown due to COVID-19 restrictions it has been reconfigured as a virtual event, even so it still provides the yardstick by which new advances in Consumer electronics are measured.

It also signals the new trends and themes for further engineering expertise required at the forefront of the sector.

According to Tech Republic’s editor Bill Detwiler there were 6 major trends at this year’s virtual event CES 2021:

1. Health, wellness and workplace safety

The industry sees continuing improvement in now-standard products as smart doorbells and lighting, smart security systems and even smart showers and kitchen faucets. Home technologies aimed at keeping homes, and their occupants, safely and healthy are particularly popular.

Consumers are “more aware and concerned about their personal health and well-being,” said Steve Koenig of the Consumer Tech Association, organisers of the show. “For many, that extends to the home as well.”

Digital Health was also high on the agenda at CES 2021. The pandemic, and the resulting global stay-at-home orders, demonstrated the enormous role that technology had to play—from keeping us in contact with our loved ones to connecting us with doctors via our devices through rapidly-deployed telehealth solutions. According to McKinsey, telehealth has surged since COVID-19.

Most of the inventive technologies are being devised to enhance the at-home learning and working experience, while there was an emphasis on smart masks, high-tech air purifiers, and other devices to monitor individual health and cleanliness of our home and work environments. Tech companies were tapping into the changing needs of home entertainment with state-of-the-art audio systems, televisions, and mobile devices.

2. Technology to blend work and personal lives

People have often used their laptops and phones and tablets for both work and personal, but now there are specific products for that market. “For a year, we’ve been working out of our homes, and that trend probably isn’t going to go away anytime soon for a lot of people,” said Dewiler.

For Samsung, the home has taken on greater significance since Covid -19. As people spent more time at home last year, they relied on tech to understand many ways connected solutions could make life easier. TVs and Chromebooks became crucial for home learning and fitness. Smart fridges helped with remote shopping and meal preparation and Smartphones were indispensable.

By bringing AI to its products, Samsung, among others, were creating new home experiences—from washing machines that optimize water usage, detergents, and wash cycles, to TVs with a Quantum AI Processor that can upscale HD content into pristine 8K resolution.

3. 5G moving to mainstream

"Wherever you looked across the [virtual] show floor, 5G came up," CTA’s Steve Koenig stated. Ultimately, he said, "it will really touch everything we're doing." 5G is at the mainstage for its use cases in remote working, driverless cars, and more. The scenario is going to be different also since over the gap of one year now, millions of users have added access to 5G.

As all network carriers in the US and other countries upgrade 5G support to reach a wider user base the possibility of 5G making appearance in devices beyond smartphones increases.

4. Innovations around interactions with laptops/desktops to increase productivity

With half of the global workforce still working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new use cases for the PC are emerging for both consumers and employees remaining at home. Since COVID, there has been a seven hour increase per week in time spent on personal PCs. In some cases, this has resulted in an increase in everyday creativity – with photography, writing stories or articles, and live streaming being the top three activities among consumers. HP,  have focussed on providing the necessary support and environment for creative home with new computing innovations essential to how and where people experience work and life. They unveiled new devices and solutions designed to power hybrid work environments and growing personal creative studios.

As increasingly distributed workforces and hybrid work models become the reality of a new normal, small and large businesses around the world are looking to adopt new technologies for smart collaboration, increased efficiency, and lower downtimes.  Lenovo™, at the show, introduced the ThinkReality™ A3 lightweight smart glasses. The ThinkReality A3 tethers to a PC or select Motorola smartphones1 via a USB-C cable depending on the needs of smart workers anywhere allowing for customized virtual monitors and 3D visualization to Augmented Reality (AR) assisted workflows and immersive training.

Foreseeing that AR/VR will be the next revolution that transforms people's lives, Ganzin Technology have developed a new user interface that allows users to control the device using micro movements of the eyes. It is possible that, in the near future, assembly line workers in factories will be able to browse and exchange information on objects they are assembling or operating using an AR/VR headset, allowing AR/VR devices to create more value and improve work efficiency.

5. Electric vehicles and autonomous driving

General Motors was one of the many automotive manufacturers displaying their latest Electric Vehicles (EV) and Autonomous Vehicles. They showed first concepts for a futuristic flying car drone and three new EV models based on a more efficient modular battery system called Ultium. The one-seater flying vehicle dubbed eVTOL (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) was depicted in a short video showing it has four rotors and the ability to take off and land vertically.

They also revealed two new electric vehicle models—the GMC Hummer EV and the Cadillac Lyriq, which will rely on the Ultium battery system. In its presentation, GM also showcased another Cadillac EV called the Celestic. 

GM expects to invest $27 billion in EV and autonomous vehicle products through 2025, including 30 new EVs launched by the end of that year.

The Ultium battery system can boost power in future models by adding more battery modules, from six to 24 modules offering 450 miles of range per charge at 40% lower cost and 25% lower weight.   Each battery relies on aluminium with a reduced amount of cobalt, as well as nickel and manganese.

The use of wireless solutions in battery management offers designers the ability to lighten the load of an electric vehicle and thus balance the electrical charge, while meeting the highest standards of functional safety to improve reliability. The battery is the main element of an electric vehicle: more cells provide more charging capacity, which means longer distances to travel before needing a recharge. Texas Instruments highlighted how their latest solutions improved safety and reduce vehicle weight to extend driving range.

6. Mobile news

The big talk from the early part of the show was LG’s Rollable Screen concepts for mobiles adding to the maturity of 5G rollout offering speed and flexibility. TCL also showed off two concepts for rollable phones, including a larger 17-inch tablet that unfurled from both ends, like a treasure map, but those appear to be far away from an actual product.

…and what of engineering?

Although the pandemic had delayed many projects in their tracks, and engineering employment had slowed down, the technological advancements and speed to market for new products as shown at the CES show, indicates high level engineering expertise is needed now more than ever. From the second half of 2020 companies have moved on with delivering new products to the market by adapting, taking advantage of more remote working engineers to meet deadlines, on time. To find the right capabilities is still a global headache when many offices are in lockdown due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions. 

The industry like never before are looking for the right skills to take new concepts further into production and mainstream. It requires experts to find the exact match.

CIS are such experts in finding the right calibre level of skills to match every advanced engineering project need.  To make sure your latest product technology is covered contact Richard McCullagh on richardm@cis-ee.com or +34 960 038 634.