CES 2024 Themes: AI, gaming to auto, here’s what this year’s annual show of all-things tech is touting

CES, the Consumer Technology Association’s annual trade show of all-things tech, is kicking off in Las Vegas this week.

The multi-day event, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, is set to feature swaths of the industry’s latest advances and gadgets across personal tech, transportation, health care and more — with burgeoning uses of artificial intelligence almost everywhere you look.

The Consumer Technology Association bills CES as the world’s largest audited tech event held in-person. Organizers hope to bring in some 130,000 attendees this year. More than 4,000 exhibitors, including over 1,200 startups, are also expected across 2.5 million net square feet of exhibit space.

That’s still below the headcounts of pre-pandemic years and would mark a 24% dip in attendance compared to the show held in early 2020, just before COVID-19 consumed much of everyday life. But 2024 is on track to beat more recent years. The anticipated numbers would surpass 2023’s nearly 118,000 attendees, for example.

“People are pumped for this. They’re pumped because it’s post-COVID (and) they’re coming back,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, said. “And the CEO level support from around the world has been amazing.”

Big names set to exhibit at CES this year range from tech giants and automakers to leading cosmetics brands — including Amazon, Google, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and L’Oreal. The show will also spotlight the Consumer Technology Association’s partnership with the United Nations Human Security for All campaign, which recently added technology as its eighth human security pillar.

After two days of media previews, CES will run from Tuesday through Friday. The show is not open to the general public — it’s a business-to-business event often used for industry professionals to network and connect.

The Associated Press spoke with Shapiro about CES 2024 and what to expect this week. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

CES 2024 IS HERE. WHAT ARE THE MAIN THEMES OF THIS YEAR’S SHOW?

The overall theme of the show, in a sense, is sustainability. It’s green. It’s the U.N. human securities — including those that focus on clean air, clean water, food as well as health care. And the U.N. just added a new one, which is technology itself. The show is built around these human securities.

From mobility to health care, the exhibiting companies are providing solutions in the post-COVID world. We’re also getting older, we’re living longer and there’s fewer people to take care of us. Technology is the answer.

AI IS EVERYWHERE THIS YEAR. HOW MUCH SAFETY OVERSIGHT IS THERE ON THE DEVICES WE’LL SEE IN THE COMING DAYS?

AI is like the internet itself. It’s a huge ingredient that will propel so much innovation. The difference is now generative AI, which can learn from what you’ve done. And you can apply that to so many different aspects of what we do that will make our lives better — especially in a health care area.

Like any tool since the invention of fire, the government plays a very big role in making sure there are certain safety barriers. We’ve been working with the U.S. Senate and they’ve been hearing from every interested party about what we need — including a national privacy law. AI is a tool and it can be used for doing tremendous good, or it could be used for doing harm. And we want to focus on the good.

AUTOMAKERS ALSO HAVE A BIG SPOTLIGHT AT CES. CAN WE EXPECT ANY IMPACT FROM THE RECENT UAW STRIKE?

In terms of a trade event, this is like the biggest car event in the world. We see car companies from all over the world on the floor.

They will be there in different ways, and some choose not to be here for one reason or another. Certainly the strike had an impact for some of the Detroit companies, but the rest of the companies from around the world are very strong — notably from Europe, Vietnam and Japan.

WE SAW VIDEO GAME EXPO E3 BITE THE DUST LAST MONTH. WHAT ROLE DO TRADE SHOWS PLAY TODAY AND HOW CAN CES’S FUTURE BE ENSURED?

Since COVID, trade shows have actually become more important for business leaders — because they understand and appreciate that relationship-building. That face-to-face time is very important. A person who goes to CES, for example, has on average 29 different meetings. What is more efficient than that?

And then there’s something you can’t get online, which is serendipity. It’s discovery. It’s learning what you don’t know and it’s being inspired. Someone said to me on the way here, “I love going to CES because I come back optimistic for the world. I come back with 50 ideas and it energizes me.” And that’s what’s so important. I think we have a great future, and innovation is going to be what fuels us. And we will get there by gathering the world’s innovators together.

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