Defying Covid, CES Tech Show Opens This Week In Las Vegas

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The CES tech show opens for in-person attendees, but the extravagance will be reduced from previous years.

David McNew / AFP via Getty Images

Despite an increase in Covid-19 cases across the country, the annual CES tech show will go ahead as planned this week in Las Vegas.

It’s a bold move by the Consumer Technology Association, the industry trade group that sponsored the annual extravagance, a move that risks creating a massive event. CTA president Gary Shapiro says the company has taken every possible safety precaution, requiring vaccinations and masks, and distributing self-test kits to all participants. CES was held in a fully virtual format in January 2021

Many large companies have withdrawn from in-person participation in the show.


T-Mobile United States

(teleprinter:


TMUS

) CEO Mike Sievert canceled a scheduled keynote, and


General Motors

(


DG

) CEO Mary Barra will deliver her keynote address virtually.


Amazon.com

(AMZN),


Microsoft

(MSFT),


Intelligence

(INTC), Mercedes,


Meta

(


FB

),


Procter & Gamble

(PG), Lenovo,


Advanced micro-systems

(


AMD

), and many others have chosen not to participate in person. Many news outlets have also waived live coverage, including tech publications such as CNET, Engadget and The Verge. But despite many predictions to the contrary, CTA refused to cancel CES.

“CES will and must continue,” Shapiro wrote in a recent Las Vegas Review-Journal op-ed. “There will be a lot more small businesses than large ones. There may be large gaps in the show floor. Admittedly, it will be different from previous years. It can be messy. But innovation is messy. It’s risky and uncomfortable. I consider CES to be the best of our unique American history, a place where those who are different and have big ideas can come together. Where success is not based on class or religion or anything other than the strength of an idea.

Shapiro added that canceling the show “would hurt thousands of small businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators who have invested in building their exhibits and rely on CES for their business, their inspiration and their future.”

Key themes for this year’s event will include autonomous and electric vehicles, health and wellness products, and metaverse development. Keynote speakers will include


Qualcomm

(QCOM) CEO Cristiano Amon, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg,


Abbott Laboratories

(ABT) Robert Ford, CEO of Samsung Electronics, Jong-Hee Han, in addition to GM’s Barra.


Interactive Platoon

(PTON) CEO John Foley will speak at CTA’s annual Leaders in Technology dinner.

But the bigger story at CES 2022 will undoubtedly be how event planners, exhibitors and attendees deal with Covid. Emphasis will be placed on the effectiveness of CTA’s safety protocols, smaller crowds and personal choices of whether or not to attend the event.

The CES show will be open for three days, compared to the usual four, starting Wednesday. On Friday, CTA said it was reducing this year’s event by one day. “This measure was taken as an additional safety measure to the current health protocols that have been put in place for CES,” CTA said. A few companies have turned to virtual press events, including Bosch, Hisense, and Intel (INTC).

This year’s event will include the CES debut of a new section of the Las Vegas Convention Center, the West Hall; CES will not be using the old south hall of the LVCC. One way to get around will be through tunnels built by Elon Musk’s Boring Co. which carries passengers via


You’re here

(


TSLA

) Vehicles. The Venetian’s exhibition space will once again host another group of exhibitors, while press day events will take place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Barron plans to provide event updates throughout the week.

Write to Eric J. Savitz at [email protected]

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