Steve Koenig (Photo by John Staley)

“Innovation tends to accelerate and bunch up, and, as it is unleashed, it levels up society and makes life better. We have seen innovation this past season, and it is waiting for you at CES,” said Steve Koenig, vice president, Research, for the Consumer Technology Association, in his introduction to the “CES 2022 Trends to Watch” session the evening of Jan. 3. This annual rundown gives members of the media a look at the trends  shaping the industry, and previews some of the technologies that await them on the show floor.

The first trend Koenig mentioned was the increase in tech demand. The U.S. tech industry forecast is $505 billion dollars, a new high for the industry. Growth rates in 2020 and 2021 showed elevated annual growth for such a mature industry — hitting nearly 10 percent in 2021.

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So what are people buying? The CTA’s report shows that consumers are leveling up their tech, with people upgrading to 4K Ultra HD TVs and smart home products, such as doorbells and appliances. They are also investing in premium brands to create a better experience for themselves, as well as services such as connected fitness devices like Peloton. Premium content services are also growing with the average consumer subscribing to eight different paid services.

Koenig also mentioned that alongside consumers there is another group leaning into the tech sector — investors, who are heavily focused on tech startups. The evidence of this trend is here at CES, with 800 startups located in Eureka Park. The key funding areas for these investors are retail tech, financial tech and healthcare.

Of course, the industry is still facing some large challenges with supply chain issues and the chip shortage, but Koenig sees light at the end of the tunnel in both cases. For supply chain, shipping costs are coming down, but delays remain. “It will take the better part of 2022 before we unravel this challenge,” he said.

For the chip shortage, the short-term solution is to squeeze out more product volume from existing facilities. The real fix for the problem, he said, is to build more chip-making facilities. “It will take time to build the facilities,” he said. “Once we have these new fabs, by the middle of the decade, we will also have a greater geodiversity of chip facilities.”

He concluded the presentation by looking at the current trends, which once again include 5G and AI, but now also include the metaverse.

“5G will provide the connected tissue for innovation in this decade,” said Koenig. “In 2022 we will start to turn from a consumer-centric focus of 5G to industrial IoT — increasing cloud infrastructure, digital transformation, and so on. And hand in hand with 5G is AI — AI getting better and better with new use cases.

“The metaverse is closer than you think, he continued. “The building blocks are here — cloud, 5G, haptics, volumetric video — now we have to assemble them into an experience. The next gen of the internet will create immersive experiences and over time — within 10 years — these experiences will become inextricably linked with our reality.”

An example of this can be seen in the Hyundai Mobis exhibit, located in West Hall, where users can create an avatar to test drive a virtual Hyundai.

The other trends to watch for at CES 2022 include Transportation, Space Tech, Sustainable Tech and Digital Health.

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