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CES 2022: In Person But Not Many People

A quick look at the hybrid consumer electronics event.

popularity

CES was and is officially hybrid, with some events on-site in Las Vegas and some online. But many of the large exhibitors pulled out of attending in person (including Cadence, although we might be a big exhibitor at DAC but at CES we are tiny). A lot of the press seems to have stayed away in-person too. To be honest, a lot of the press has been gradually staying away for years since so much is available online that it is not necessary to endure the travails of fighting a hundred thousand people.

Even on press day, one rule about CES is that you can never get a seat in Starbucks and the line will be at least 15-30 minutes long, but this year:

Apparently, the new sport at CES is trying to guess what was going to be in some of the empty space:

So far the hottest thing to show up in the various coverage I have seen (and about a hundred times in my Twitter feed) is BMW’s color-changing car. It looks pretty neat, I have to admit, but how much anyone would pay for a color-changing car remains to be seen. It is also unclear if it can really change color or just change from light to dark (in the video it changes from black to white only). Although, as one wag on Twitter put it, “the color of my face will be changing when I discover the price.”

Another trend that seems to be ubiquitous is the metaverse. I’m not in Vegas so I’ve not wandered the show floor, but here is a Twitter feed by someone who has decided to document the most ridiculous usage of “metaverse” all over the show. Here’s just one example:

Semiconductor

Okay, that’s enough of the amusing aspects of CES.

Most of CES is about consumer electronics, of course. That’s what the C and E stand for. However, much of that is too remote from the semiconductor and EDA businesses to justify full coverage here. For example, nobody comes here to find out which company has the best TVs this year. For a start, even when you see them up close, they all look the same. Mobile phones have the same problem. It is only if you dig into the specs in detail that you can tell what is going on.

Sometimes there are big trends you can pick up on. For example, a few years ago everyone was exhibiting 3D TVs, but it turned out the public didn’t want 3D TVs so they quietly faded away. Another issue is reliability. Some of these phones and tablets with folding screens look very neat…but how well will the folding screens work in several years’ time? Manufacturers pick up on issues like this, and as a result, quite a bit of what is shown at CES is aspirational and never ships as a real product in the form in which you can see it here. Also, a lot of the technology comes across as a solution looking for a problem. Virtual reality, outside of gaming, doesn’t seem to deliver a lot, the metaverse notwithstanding. The same for augmented reality. The glasses are starting to get reasonably good but there is nothing much to drive them.

However, many semiconductor companies made major announcements at CES. I will cover those in a more detailed post sometime next week once I’ve dug deeper into the announcements: Intel, NVIDIA, MobileEye, AMD, and more.

In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here is Engadget’s summary of Intel’s announcements in under 10 minutes. By the way, I recommend these summaries rather than sitting through the entire presentations by the companies that are often very verbose.



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