What To Look For at CES 2021

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(By Buzz Knight) In anticipation of the upcoming CES, I wondered in our new, pandemic-based existence what might be surfacing at the upcoming digital-only show. One of the biggest life-changing moments during the pandemic has been the need for consumers to rely on video to communicate with co-workers, family members, and more.

Zoom went from a useful tool to a necessity overnight, and at CES that will obviously fuel a look at other types of videoconferencing. Google, for example, took major leaps in its videoconferencing capabilities with Google Meet by enabling chats with hundreds of participants.

With Microsoft having a big presence at the upcoming show, it will also be interesting to see what advancements they are working on for their Team platform.

Fitness tech has been a burgeoning category every year at CES, and there is no doubt this year will be no exception. As gyms have essentially shut down as a result of the pandemic, consumers have placed a greater reliance on finding the right solution to stay fit.

A turning point for fitness tech this past year was that these machines or devices really do  help us become more fit.

Of course there is gimmickry, but overall there is great quality in this category, obviously led by the Peloton wave. Look for other subscription service copycats to try to get a piece of this category.

Tangentially related to the fitness tech category are electric two-wheelers, which saw growth in 2020. With regulations in states like New York and California making these devices safer to ride, we can potentially expect to see more interest in this category at CES.

Home health care was bound to advance with the pandemic, and this year we can expect to evaluate products like Vision Check 2, a new DIY smartphone vision test created by Eye Q that makes it easy to test your vision at home and order glasses online, and Gate Doc, a smart automated and touchless body temperature scanner that eliminates the burden of temperature checks.

Heath care was an exploding category before the pandemic, so expect to see lots of innovation this year.

Are there devices or categories that emerged last year at CES that might need a reboot of sorts? Here are some of my picks:

Some of the Amazon devices might be a little on the weird side. For example, a drone that rides around your house recording video strikes me as unnecessary. Bad sci-fi implications there!

Amazon’s Halo fitness tracking device also seems a bit useless. I don’t need an app to tell me I’m in a bad mood

Another idea that either needs a reboot from last year’s show (or to go away) is the foldable phone category. Still trying to figure out why anyone would need that.

Then there is 5G — marketing ploy or real deal? As the carriers fight for their share, it feels more like marketing than an advantage that has arrived

Very few companies find the big win that becomes the must-have of CES.

Let’s see who breaks out of the pack in the upcoming days.

CES Virtual is January 11-14.
Buzz Knight is the CEO of Buzz Knight Media and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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