i3 | April 05, 2021

The All-Digital CES 2021 Makes History

CES 2021 highlights
CES 2021 focused on tech innovation. AMD's Dr. Lisa Su shared the company's vision, Caterpillar shows its tech leadership, and Walmart's Doug McMillan gave a compelling keynote.

From the latest innovations for the home and entertainment, to advances in 5G, vehicle technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital health, the technologies unveiled at CES 2021 point to a bright future. In mid-January, the first-ever, all-digital CES® 2021 made history as the largest digital tech event. 

Owned and produced by CTA, CES 2021 featured product launches from startups to tech giants, keynotes from global industry leaders, live entertainment from Hollywood and more than 100 hours of conference programming. The future of entertainment was also reimagined with a special event featuring Ryan Seacrest and music superstars Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa, discussing how tech has created a more immersive fan experience.

CES 2021 kicked off Jan. 11 with Media Day, featuring 19 press conferences focused on innovation. Also, almost 2000 companies launched products, including nearly 700 startups from 37 countries. Exhibiting companies included tech giants, like Intel, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics and Sony, as well as non-traditional tech companies like AARP, Bridgestone, Caterpillar, Indy Autonomous Challenge, John Deere, L’Oréal, Moen and Procter & Gamble. New companies exhibiting at CES 2021 included ASUS, BioIntelliSense, Bose, Sono Motors and Volvo Penta.

View from the Top

Industry leaders took to the keynote stage to share their insights:

  • Verizon: Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon, demonstrated the immersive 5G experience across sports, education and live music, and announced partnerships with the NFL, UPS, Live Nation Clubs and Theaters, The Met and the Smithsonian.
  • General Motors: Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors (GM), launched new product lines, including the Cadillac eVTOL, a concept air taxi; and a new business unit devoted to electrifying the goods delivery market.
  • AMD: Dr. Lisa Su, president and CEO of AMD, revealed the new Ryzen 5000 series mobile processors with two categories — the H-series, for gaming and content creation laptops, and the U-series, for ultraportable notebooks.
  • Best Buy: Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy, shared how the company shifted during the pandemic and put customers in control of buying from home, curbside or in person.
  • Future Trends: Michael Miebach, CEO of Mastercard, and Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, predicted tech trends over the next decade.
  • Walmart: Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, discussed ways 5G, AI and robotics will change the business and the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • Microsoft: Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, gave his vision on ensuring cyber security and customer privacy protection.
  • Entertainment: Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO of MediaLink, and Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, described the evolving entertainment industry.


companies launched products


startups exhibited


countries, regions or territories represented

Key Themes at CES 2021

The event featured innovations that improve health, safety, sustainability, accessibility and mobility.

  • Tech Innovation Accelerated by COVID-19
    Companies innovated during the pandemic, unveiling smart masks, disinfecting robots, body sensors that detect COVID-19 symptoms and smart air filtration systems.
  • Consumer Privacy and Trust
    The heads of privacy at Amazon, Google and Twitter discussed new privacy regulations and the need to increase consumer trust.
  • Global Tech Challenge
    Launched at CES 2020, in partnership with the World Bank and CTA, the Global Tech Challenge rewarded tech solutions in three areas: digital health in East Africa, resilience in India and gender equality worldwide.
  • Space Tech
    NASA was joined by leaders from Lockheed Martin and Space Tango to discuss technology’s role in accelerating space research.

CES 2021 was truly a global event, with attendees from 150 countries and over 1300 international exhibitors, including more than 530 international startups. Large delegations of exhibitors attended from Canada, France, Israel, Italy, Japan and South Korea and for the first time, startups from Nigeria and Russia. CES 2022 will return to Las Vegas, as well as digitally, Jan. 5-8, 2022. 

CES 2021 anchor desk behind-the-scenes
The CES anchor desk included interviews with industry leaders.

CES Anchor Desk

The CES Live Anchor Desk was a true broadcast experience, providing the latest CES news with anchors:

  • Rich DeMuro — Tech reporter for KTLA-TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles @richontech
  • Justine Ezarik (iJustine) — Host + Tech Content Creator @ijustine
  • Naomi Kyle — Host and Producer @NaomiKyle
  • Brian Tong — Tech Host & Content Creator @briantong

The Anchor Desk featured interviews with top industry leaders including entrepreneur Mark Cuban; musician and tech entrepreneur will.i.am; and HRH Constantijn van Oranje, The Netherlands; and executives from AT&T, Audi, Bosch, FIFA, Humana, Hyperion, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Material Impact, OMRON Healthcare, Philips, P&G, Samsung Electronics and United Talent Agency.

MoJo Sees the Future at Last Gadget Standing

by Robin Raskin

For the 21st year, but for the first time in an all-digital format, CES 2021 hosted Last Gadget Standing (LGS), an audience-fueled technology competition to predict which new product will stand the test of time. The contest pitted five recently launched or soon-to-hit-the-market products against each other, and the audience voted in real-time on January 12 for the most innovative product after watching video demos from all five companies.

Garnering 57% of the vote, the winner was Mojo Lens, a smart contact lens being developed by Mojo Vision, a Saratoga, California-based startup. The contact lens uses a proprietary augmented reality technology to project images, video and text onto the wearer’s field of vision. The lens has a teeny built-in display that provides information (think weather, messages and stocks) as well as features like real-time contrast, lighting enhancements and zoom functionality, which the company hopes will provide the powers of “super-vision.” Mojo Lens won’t be ready for consumers this year, but it exemplifies the groundbreaking innovation that the LGS competition rewards.

Drew Perkins, the company’s CEO said, “Winning LGS has been a great experience, and we’re honored, especially when you look at the amazing innovations and cutting-edge products at this year’s CES. The award wasn’t just a great kickoff to 2021, it has also inspired new investor and partner interest in Mojo Vision.”

The other contenders gave stellar performances in their own right:

  • Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, the world’s first foldable PC,
  • OrCam’s OrCam Reader, a reader for low-vision users that translates text to speech, whether on-screen, from a newspaper, a menu, or even a package label,
  • TG0’s etee, a controller that makes virtual reality experiences more user-friendly, and
  • ArcX’s Smart Ring, a wearable ring with a built in-joystick to improve sports workouts.

Congratulations to the finalists — we’re excited to see where these products take us this year!

i3 magazine March/April 2021 cover

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