“AI For All”
It's the first thing I saw on arriving at Las Vegas' Harry Reid International Airport Sunday night. As our Uber zipped past the expansive Las Vegas Convention Center grounds, there it was, bigger than life. Hoping it becomes the theme of CES 2024, Samsung's vision for this megawatt conference is displayed in huge letters.
For Paul and me, it's our 16th consecutive CES here in chilly Las Vegas (save for 2021 when this show made a valiant effort to go virtual), and a much-hoped-for return to the size and magnitude of pre-pandemic gatherings. They're expecting more than 140,000 attendees from around the globe. And if those estimates are in the ballpark, it will feel very busy all over the Vegas landscape, from the LVCC to Eureka Park to restaurants and taxi lines. For the CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, this can only be construed as good news.
Gary Shapiro has been running this organization since 1991, during which time he's seen it all – exciting tech trends, a global recession, a pandemic, and now what he (and the rest of us) hope is a full recovery. Gary was kind enough to exchange thoughts about CES 2024 with me and my compadre, Buzz Knight, once again this year.
But first, a brief word from the weatherman. And to make this familiar to radio people, I went right to AccuWeather to give you a glimpse of the chill factor. With a “RealFeel” temp of just 32°, this feels more like Lansing than Las Vegas. Fortunately, we'll be indoors for most of CES and it will be warming up while we're here.
Unlike past CES extravaganzas, it seems like we know the punchline before the event even begins.
And there's no doubt, AI is what many of the attendees on our tour hope to see – especially how it fits into their companies and organizations.
In my lifetime, I've never seen a coming technology being met by so much anticipation and so much dread – at the same time.
When tech's leaders – including those who are knee-deep in AI express trepidations about how this resource might be used, it causes you to take a pause.
We'll be especially interested to see how Samsung, LG, Sony, and the other massive companies we call “city states” at CES will be showing off their AI applications. These brands always emphasize the “consumer” in consumer electronics. How they show AI improving our lives will be worth noting, especially as it pertains to how real people entertain and inform themselves where they are.
Gary Shapiro understands that. And he reveals that “with 4,000+ exhibitors, the show floor will expand by more than 10%” over last year. Beyond AI, Gary points to beauty (L'Oreal), retail (Walmart), finance, and technology (Qualcomm) – industries that will be “sharing their insights into the technologies changing our industry and improving lives.”
I personally love the eclectic mix of companies on display at CES. It's a reminder that every company is a tech company. This year, Walmart and L'Oreal will have show floor presence for the first time ever. The former has built an exhibit building on Central Plaza, the same turf where Google's big structure has sat the past several years. Netflix is back for the first time since 2018, showing off their gaming and AR, while Goodyear's iconic blimp will be hovering over the CES-scape, showing off their “innovation in sustainability and mobility.”
From CES, Paul and I will be sharing our experience with all of you via our partnership with Inside Radio. Watch for our reports there this week from the floor of CES 2024. We will also be conducting a free webinar later this month that connects CES 2024 to radio and the challenges – and opportunities – that are right in front of us.
Gary told us “the automotive sector will be bigger than ever at CES 2024, one of the largest global auto shows with more than 250 exhibitors across an expanded West Hall, North Hall, Central Plaza and the outdoor Diamond Lot. Innovation will focus on concept cars, connected vehicles and autonomous mobility.”
And you can bet Paul and I – along with our attendees from all corners of broadcast radio – will be asking auto execs, marketers, and engineers their positions on radio in their dashboards – specifically AM. And we'll be spending quality time with Joe D'Angelo and his Xperi team, getting up to speed on their AutoStage platform and the exciting data stream it's generating.
Yesterday, they announced HD Radio/AutoStage integration with BMW, Ford, and…wait for it…Harley Davidson. That's the other beauty of CES – typically, companies wait to release their new innovations until this week. It seems like every time you turn around, it's another exciting announcement, a deluge of innovation.
Why come to CES? Buzz and I put that question to Gary:
“I love tech, and CES 2023 showed us that nothing can replace the real-life joy of physical togetherness or serendipitous discovery of a shared interest or business possibility. I'm excited to see the themes that emerge from the keynotes and to see what runs through all of them (beyond AI!).”
It's interesting that most people view those moments of happenstance as discovering a new gadget or innovation. I've also come to believe that many of those spontaneous interludes are personal – meeting people at an event that despite it's size is warm, friendly, and collegial.
We can't wait.
Special thanks to Gary Shapiro, Pam Golden, and the team. And of course, Buzz Knight.