The Consumer Electronics Show, the biggest technology trade show in the world, is once again open for business.
After two challenging years coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, which was particularly difficult for the conference and trade show industry, CES is expected to welcome about 100,000 attendees this week in Las Vegas.
That's down about 40% from CES 2020 but still a significant jump in the numbers who attended in 2022. Over the past two years, CES managed to put on its show, which was all digital in 2021 and a hybrid digital and in-person in 2022 amid the Omicron surge.
This year, the Consumer Technology Association, the trade organization that puts on the annual event, says about one-third of the attendees are coming from outside the U.S.
"On the exhibitor side, a significant number come from outside of the U.S., making CES a truly global event," said John Kelley, vice president and acting show director for CES, who spoke with VOA via Skype.
In fact, of the estimated 3,200 exhibitors who are expected to show off their wares, more than 1,400, or 43%, are coming from outside the U.S.
In the African pavilion, a dozen companies from the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be showcasing their homegrown innovations. The Ukraine pavilion will include technology firms from the Eastern European nation under siege by Russian forces.
Organizers also expect hundreds of Chinese firms to exhibit, despite recent COVID-related requirements for people traveling from China to the U.S.
"The Chinese presence at CES has always been quite pronounced and we're starting to see it come back this year, which is quite exciting," Kelley said.
Digital health, transportation technology and the metaverse are just a few of the latest technological innovations being showcased in Las Vegas.
Addressing global concerns
This year's theme is technology helping to address the world's greatest challenges, said Kelley.
"We've partnered with a U.N.-affiliated group, the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, to showcase how technology is supporting what we call human securities, or human rights," he said, which includes food, political and environmental security, and mobility.
Show organizers expect increased focus on the metaverse — a shared digital reality connecting users — and on Web3, also known as Web 3.0, which proponents describe as the third generation of the World Wide Web.
CES has partnered with CoinDesk, a news site specializing in bitcoin and digital currencies, to build a studio on the show floor to showcase these types of Web3 applications, including blockchain and crypto.
Cool cars and trash-collecting sharks
From the internet highway to the interstate, automobiles have always had a major presence at the show, with more than 300 auto industry exhibitors showing off their latest products.
Organizers say there is also growth in marine technology, with boat manufacturers moving toward sustainable forms of energy.
The battery-operated WasteShark by the Dutch firm RanMarine Technology is an autonomous surface vessel designed to remove algae, biomass, and floating pollution such as plastics from lakes, ponds, and other coastal waterways.
"There's a lot of people doing really great stuff out in the ocean and cleaning that up," said company CEO Richard Hardiman, who spoke with VOA via Skype.
"Our mandate for our company is to clean it before it goes into the ocean," he said. "So we're trying to, sort of, what we call, ‘capture that waste at source,' before it pollutes the ocean."
Another area that's grown significantly at CES is digital health, CTA's Kelley said. Dozens of exhibitors will be showcasing the latest health technologies, including new applications and diagnostic tools.
"What this does is give consumers access to their information, access to their data, and allows them to make decisions based on the data that they receive," he said.
Canadian-based eSight Eyewear plans to display a headset designed to help people with visual impairments such as age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD.
"When a person with AMD looks at your face, they wouldn't see any distinct features; it would just be flesh tones," explained Roland Mattern, eSight Eyewear's director of marketing, who spoke with VOA via Skype.
Once the user puts on the device, they will be able to see distinct features such eyebrows, mouth and eyes, Mattern said.
"Users can literally see your entire face," he said. "Your reaction. And that is an important feature because so much of communication is being able to see the other person's reaction."
It's just one example of the many technologies on display this year at CES 2023, where companies from all corners of the world will come together to share their latest innovations.