‘An overabundance of gadgets and gizmos’

7 mins read

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was a full in-person event, following the disruption of the past few years due to the pandemic and, as always, the statistics around it highlight the scale and variety of the show.

This year's show saw over 3,200 exhibitors covering 2.2mn square feet of exhibition space across the Vegas Convention Centre – which represented a 70 per cent improvement over 2022 – and over 115,000 attendees.

CES has continued to widen its scope beyond consumer electronics and with over 300 vehicle technology companies and manufacturers present, it is now one of the most important automotive shows in the world.

According to Harold Blomquist, VP of Business Development, MICLEDI, while CES 2023 was an exciting return to the “near-pre-COVID” CES of old, “global economic factors – declining profits, supply chain issues, travel constraints – and tight budgets did put a dampener on the number of attendees at the show, especially in the hard-hit tech sectors.”

But despite that the footprint of exhibitors was refreshingly broad and diverse. “There were pluses and minuses of the increased dispersion and scope,” Blomquist said. “Pluses being the higher participation of influencers and senior-level personnel; while the minuses included spreading these people out making it harder to get quality time conveniently with them as visitors tended to be overwhelmed by an overabundance of gizmos and gadgets, of every conceivable type.” 

There were no surprises in that sustainability was an increasingly important issue for companies attending CES, as its importance as been growing over recent years.

Many consumer brands, including Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony and Hisense, highlighted their commitment to responsible manufacturing and better lifecycle management of their products. Energy-efficient products also took centre stage with companies having to contend with new standards - Energy Star - as well as recently strengthened European Energy Label standards.

According to research conducted by Futuresource, video entertainment products now consume in excess of 468 TWh (terawatt hours) of electricity globally annually – so it’s no surprise that energy efficiency is now such an important issue. 


AR and VR (combined XR) technology once again took a leading role at CES which, according to Futuresource, was helped by a host of new applications and opportunities driven by the growing Metaverse.

One company, Caliverse, demonstrated what VR might be able to deliver via the Metaverse in terms of shopping and shared cinema locations, and did so with a mix of technology, such as VR headsets, hand controllers and separate headphones for spatial audio.

According to Imagination’s Vice President of Business Development, Graham Deacon, “In terms of mixed reality, foreshadowing the changes to come as companies and services undergo a fast-paced digital transformation, both in the XR and gaming space, the new chapter in XR is focused on interaction and immersion, beyond just graphics. For me, haptics was the star of the show.”

According to Deacon, “There was a clear difference in opinion on what will be the killer app driving the Metaverse, with Sony focusing on the importance of providing all of the sensory stimulus for total immersion in gaming, while companies like Magic Leap focused on the precise location and effective control and tracking required by industrial and enterprise AR applications.

“PlayStation’s DualSense controllers have already introduced new ways of integrating haptics, where adaptive triggers and vibrations are improving player experiences. Further enhancing player immersion, Sony’s new PS VR headset brought exciting graphics performance and might be a key driver in wider adoption of VR,” added Deacon.

There were plenty of new headsets on display with HTC’s Vive XR Elite, which uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 processor and is due to launch later this year, and Shiftall’s MeganeX VR headset also drawing attention. The MeganeX uses pancake lenses, but employs micro-OLED displays with higher resolution and a faster refresh rate to improve the quality of the display.

“Innovative technologies including microLEDs for AR and XR glasses seemed to be everywhere – VIVE from HTC, Lumus and TCL AR glasses, Magic Leap at CES for the first time, and Vuzix’s entire line of AR glasses were certainly notable,” added Blomquist.

Elsewhere, OVR Technology showcased an add-on device for VR headsets, demonstrating a stand-alone wearable with an odourfilled cartridge that is able to pair Bluetooth with gaming systems, mobile devices or desktops.

However, despite the technology on display Futuresource made the point that while CES illustrated that all elements of VR technology were improving, the actual realities of the Metaverse, and where it could take us, remain largely undefined.

IoT and Connectivity

As expected, connectivity was a common theme at this year’s CES, and most devices on display all came with some form of wireless connectivity in order to operate properly, whether that was using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi for internet connectivity.

“IoT certainly took centre stage, more so than previous years. With 5G and wireless connectivity evolving at a rapid pace, the potential for this infrastructure is huge,” said Deacon.

CES also saw a broad range of products supporting the new Matter specification which aims to unify interoperability standards across Smart Home and IoT devices, allowing improved connectivity and enabling better communication across differing vendor ecosystems. Amazon, Google, Apple, and Samsung are all leading supporters of Matter so making it possible for consumers to use different apps, hubs, and voice assistants to manage all their connected devices seamlessly.

“Matter has accelerated growth in the industry and with companies such as Nordic Semiconductor supporting it, developers will be able to create more secure and reliable solutions that easily integrate with major smart home systems,” explained Deacon.

While Matter is helping to accelerate greater connectivity, manufacturers are expected to retain existing branding for Smart Home and IoT products going forward.

Schneider Electric, for example, used CES to unveil Schneider Home – a first-of-its-kind home energy management solution for homeowners looking for a mix of savings and energy independence. This solution includes a home battery for clean energy storage, a high-power solar inverter, a smart electrical panel, electric vehicle charger and connected electric sockets and light switches – all controlled by the Schneider Home app which brings utility power, solar, back up battery and EV charging together.

“Within this interconnected future, data will reign supreme and as an IP company we enable these technologies to evolve, especially as more companies are taking chip design into their own hands and heterogeneous compute becomes more important than ever,” said Deacon.

Also on display were early implementations of Wi-Fi 7 with home gateways/routers expected to have early support for Wi-Fi 7 later this year despite full ratification of the standard not scheduled until 2024.

Finally, artificial intelligence (AI) was everywhere and could be found in everything from TV image processing, through to health monitoring in wearables, and rather than a marketing buzzword, companies were actually utilising machine learning techniques to recognise behavioural patterns and derive actionable insights that were previously impossible to discern.One key trend from this year’s show was the accelerated roll-out of edge-based AI alongside faster cloud connectivity provided by Wi-Fi 7 and 5G.


The main focus at CES this year, when it came to automotive, were electric vehicles (EV), autonomous vehicles, infotainment, connectivity, components and maps.

Among some of the key announcements were Qualcomm’s unveiling of the Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC, a solution that will expand its low-power, advanced computing capabilities into the automotive space as part of its Snapdragon Digital Chassis initiative. It’s built on a heterogenous compute architecture that addresses multiple workloads and is pre-integrated with the Snapdragon Ride Vision Stack.

BMW took the opportunity to preview its next-generation 3 series concept model based on the Neue Klasse platform.

The new i Vision Dee concept (‘digital emotional experience’) makes it possible for the vehicle’s exterior to support different design styles like stripes, patterns and animation, and it can curate up to 32 different colours. The concept also included a new OS and an innovative and fully controllable HUD with windscreen projection.

Harman announced enhanced in-cabin safety and awareness with the unveiling of its AR-based HUD hardware and AR-based software products.

Its Ready Vision AR software integrates with vehicle sensors and can provide immersive audio and visual alerts providing the driver with more critical knowledge and information in a non-intrusive manner. It uses computer vision and machine learning for 3D object detection to deliver collision and blind spot warnings, lane departure, lane change assist and low speed zone notifications to the driver, all with much greater precision.

“Ready Vision solves key industry challenges around driver safety by helping drivers better understand their surroundings and enabling an eyes-forward, focused journey. It provides drivers with the right information at the right time, even in the most unfamiliar driving scenarios, making their time on the road more intuitive and safer,” explained Armin Prommersberger, the company’s Senior Vice President of Product Management.

According to Futuresource the automotive sector now offers the primary opportunity for virtual assistants and BMW and Stellantis, among others, demonstrated tighter integration of voice interfaces into dashboards. Not only were there more custom in-car assistants from companies like Cerence and Houndify but Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri were also being widely used to deliver hybrid solutions.

CES certainly reaffirmed that voice is expanding beyond infotainment systems driven by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and is being used to accurately control vehicle functions through deeper integration with central electronics systems and drive trains.

Assisted Living

Another big theme this year was assisted living and exhibitors highlighted the capabilities of consumer electronics to deliver assistive technology.

Accordingly, smart glasses proved popular but while the focus tended to be on entertainment, most analysts believe that the best early use-case for smart glasses will be as a tool for the visually and hearing impaired.

The lenses in AR glasses typically incorporate optical technology, such as waveguides and micro-LEDs, to create a wearable visual display. Many smart glasses featured miniaturised cameras and speakers within the plastic arms and a number of start-ups, including Xrai, XanderGlasses, and Seleste Audio, demonstrated software that can transform AR glasses into tools for real-time text-to-speech or speech-to-text. Working with AR hardware platform providers, they are creating smart glasses which will allow the hearing impaired to see conversations sub-titled in real-time or the visually impaired to hear an audio description of their surroundings.

Most of the wearable technology on display was in-ear or hearable assistive technology that will help to improve social inclusivity.

But the ear is also a good location for vital sign monitoring or neural signal measurements and several companies - Sonical and EarSwitch - demonstrated how a simple in-ear camera could be used to pick up both heart rate and eye movements as a wearable sensor.

Improving the quality of life was seen to motivate a variety of wearable, digital health, and gaming companies at this year’s CES.

Following the pandemic years, and amongst continued economic uncertainty, there was a feeling that consumers were more likely to invest in technology with a clear utility as opposed to novelty gadgets – which could be said to be a first for CES!