The Omicron variant hasn't kept the future of technology from showing up in Las Vegas for CES 2022. On Wednesday, Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES, spoke about the trends at this year's conference that will shape the future of business and technology.
Staying ahead of these trends is important for business owners across industries--not just those running consumer electronics companies--as the Covid-19 pandemic has already made business owners of every stripe rely on digital technology in ways they never had before. Here are three trends Shapiro highlighted in his remarks.
A highlight of this year's CES will be the Indy Autonomous Challenge, during which teams from 21 universities in nine countries will race autonomous cars at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Shapiro said the event is meant to highlight autonomous technology and jump-start innovation in the space.
Shapiro pointed out that self-driving tech will have a number of uses beyond consumer vehicles, including emergency response and logistics. Self-driving trucks, he said, could help resolve issues like the supply chain problems that have plagued the U.S. in recent months. And the technology won't be limited to the roads. "Self-driving vehicles will empower a lot of people--not only cars, but wheelchairs as well," said Shapiro. "And that will open new doors for the elderly and millions of people living with limited mobility."
Covid-19 has forced companies and workers to isolate--which, in the process, has led to improvements in accessibility. This is the first year CES's keynotes will be livestreamed, for example, as potential attendees stayed home in droves and hundreds of attendees hit the brakes on their in-person attendance.
"We continue to see an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation" due to the pandemic, said Shapiro. But technology has helped the elderly and people who are immunocompromised remain social: Shapiro discussed a recent conversation with a senior who told him that taking online art and music classes during the pandemic has saved her life.
For companies, the benefits of leveraging tech to improve accessibility are vast--whether it's improving communication platforms for remote workers or creating new products that can reach customers around the world.
In the wake of the COP26 climate summit, during which global leaders made huge commitments to green energy and carbon neutrality, this year's CES will have a distinct focus on sustainability. Big brands from GM to Samsung will discuss their sustainability efforts, and a number of sessions will focus on green technology.
"Tech is empowering us to ask big questions about our world," said Shapiro. "How can we create more sustainable practices and reduce our environmental footprint?" It's the kind of question founders should ask themselves as consumers become more environmentally aware. As Shapiro said, it's not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.