i3 | April 05, 2021

Five Megatrends from CES 2021

Steve Koenig and Brian Comiskey

Technology trends manifest in different shapes and sizes, driven by a combination of technology innovation, use cases and consumer behavior. CES® 2021 illustrated five megatrends that will expand technology’s economic footprint, leading to new business opportunities, but also a healthier and more sustainable world. Let’s take a look.

1. 5G – Beyond Mobile Broadband

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg’s keynote kicked off CES by positioning 5G as the network underpinning the megatrends that will redefine the economy. Verizon’s Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) initiative will shift processing from expensive hardware into the cloud. 

Critically, this MEC pivot will provide low cost, low energy and reliable infrastructure to accelerate the digital transformation of the economy. For example, 5G will enable new experiences in live sports and enrich logistics systems with drone-based delivery services.

2. ‘Intelligence of Things’ Scales Up

CES 2021 showed how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are forging a greater Intelligence of Things (IoT) ecosystem. CES prominently featured IoT in two key consumer areas: personal wearables and smart homes. Bosch’s debut of the first self-learning AI sensor for wearables and LG’s smart fridge equipped with a self-diagnosing filtration system, underscored that intelligence has become table-stakes in the industry.

CES 2021 also demonstrated how the Intelligence of Things is impacting the future of the enterprise. First-time exhibitor Caterpillar displayed how its autonomous CAT mining equipment will improve efficiencies and enhance job safety, a trend set to be adopted across the industrial sector.

Bosch hemoglobin monitor
Bosch's mobile Hemoglobin Monitor
Source: Courtesy of Bosch

3. Healthy at Home

After a year defined by COVID-19, CES 2021 richly illustrated the evolution of home-based digital health devices into an end-to-end wellness ecosystem. Products like the BioIntelliSense BioButton wearable, Bosch’s mobile Hemoglobin Monitor and Samsung’s Health Smart Trainer feature on their 2021 TVs provide robust examples. 

CTA Research forecasts 14 million connected health monitoring units will ship in 2021, up 35% from 2020.

4. Building a Sustainable Future

With the growing urgency of environmental challenges, innovations around climate action emerged as another prominent theme at CES. The electrification of vehicles and mobility solutions stands at the forefront of this sustainability megatrend. GM’s keynote was perhaps the most substantial as it announced plans to release 30 electric vehicle (EV) models over the next five years, emphasizing industry’s push to make EVs available to everyone. 

More, the presence of IoT chip designers for smart infrastructure like Fibocom, and new household solutions like Samsung’s solar remote control and Lasso’s automated recycling machine, revealed a growing portfolio of sustainable technologies for cities and consumers alike.

Razer Project Brooklyn concept gaming chair prototype
Razer's Project Brooklyn concept gaming chair prototype
Source: Courtesy of Razer

5. Now That’s Entertainment!

CES 2021 showcased the future of immersive experiences and on-demand escapism. Razer’s Project Brooklyn concept gaming chair prototype features a 60-inch rollout OLED display for full immersion. CES brought more immersive display technology including Micro-LED, laser projection and even rollable screens across TVs, laptops and smartphones.

CES 2021 also affirmed the ongoing shift to on-demand content distribution. Warner Bros. Entertainment announced that their direct to streaming movie release strategy will continue through 2021. Even more exciting, the virtual concert showcases held during multiple CES keynotes showed us the interactive content experiences we’ll soon be able to access from anywhere. 

i3 magazine March/April 2021 cover

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