CES 2024: What to Expect

The Consumer Electronics Show — CES for short — is the tech world’s annual curtain raiser, hosted in Las Vegas each January. It’s usually a chance to get a glimpse of the technology that will define the calendar year ahead from agenda-setting companies. The show has also developed a reputation as a home for the weird and wonderful, with start-ups competing to grab the headlines as the “next big thing”. CCS Insight will again be attending the event to provide insight from the show floor, looking to separate the promising tech from the pointless.

Exhibitors at CES typically jump on the latest hot topic in tech, and for that reason we expect artificial intelligence (AI) to feature heavily across the show floor, with generative AI likely to be the main flavour. Some of the major agenda setters will use the event as a chance to demonstrate broad thought leadership in the exciting area, but we also expect on-device AI to figure prominently, especially as CES has historically been a gadget-centric show. Given the buzz generated by Humane’s AI Pin in 2023, it would be no surprise to see a host of new AI-centric devices of all shapes and sizes displayed across the show floor.

We also expect AI to feature prominently in mature product categories. In 2023 there was a surge in interest around the AI capabilities of everything from smartphones to laptops, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that hybrid approaches to AI — where the workload is split between devices and the cloud — have a major role to play. Hardware, software and ecosystem players are all scrambling to wrap intelligent features into their offerings, and we expect to see updates from leading tech players including Google, Qualcomm and Samsung. Striking a balance between AI in the cloud and on-device is set to be a crucial dynamic in 2024, so CES would be a natural jumping-off point.

Beyond AI, we expect the automotive sector will have a strong showing. It has become a central pillar of CES in recent years, with established car-makers and tech companies using the event to reveal ground-breaking innovations. At CES 2023, Sony announced its entry into the car market in partnership with Honda, and BMW unveiled a concept car wrapped with an e-ink display to allow it to change colour. There were also plenty of developments in electric vehicles from automakers.

Hyundai, Kia and Mercedes-Benz are listed as featured exhibitors for this year’s event, alongside companies like Nvidia and Qualcomm, which are focused on powering the connected car experiences of the future. Of course, AI has a role to play here as well, with a continued focus on intelligent and self-driving vehicles. A large share of the Las Vegas Convention Center is now dedicated to exhibitors focused on connected vehicles at CES, so it should prove fruitful ground.

Beyond this, CES is a fairly reliable hotbed for device news. The wearables category usually performs well at the show, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see some breakthroughs in health- and fitness-related tech. Similarly, virtual and augmented reality has benefited from time in the spotlight at previous CES events, and given the excitement about forthcoming devices in the segment, we’ll be keeping a close eye on further developments. We predict that we’ll see some new devices from established players in this space, as well as continued progress in components such as display technology.

Home appliances also consistently perform well at CES. We expect to see everything from TVs and dishwashers to fridges making a splash from household names like LG, Panasonic and Sony, but arguably the real interest will be whether the concept of the smart home sees any further progression. We’ve seen smart home devices take up vast amounts of trade show floor space in the past, but it’s become harder to tell an exciting new story, meaning it’s struggled for oxygen. Added to this, Matter, the standard that pledged to solve inter-ecosystem compatibility in the smart home, is yet to truly deliver on its promise. We’ll be keeping an eye out for updates here, as progress would be very welcome for a host of players.

All in all, it looks set to be a busy show. Last year’s event drew 115,000 attendees, a strong recovery after some years when CES was forced to be mostly virtual. We expect that numbers will improve further this year, and the show’s website estimates that 130,000 people will attend. The primacy of events like CES in the calendar has undoubtedly faded given the rise of companies hosting their own events throughout the year — such as Samsung, which has a Galaxy Unpacked event just a week later — but trade shows still provide a valuable meeting place for the industry and offer a chance for new ideas to reach the mainstream.

Keep an eye on my LinkedIn, X and Threads, where I’ll be sharing thoughts from CES next week.