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TickTockTech: CES 2024 – How Tech Jumpstarts the Year

January 22, 2024
By Alison McNally

For more than 50 years, tech enthusiasts, gadget lovers, influencers and deal makers have descended on Las Vegas to see the latest and greatest in innovation at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Sure, brands have used it historically as the place to launch everything from TVs to smart phones and driverless cars, but it was the celebrity stunts (and mishaps), epic late-night parties and awe-inspiring booths that have allowed media, analysts, executives, opinion leaders and consumers to mix and mingle – coalescing around the next great technology developments.

Covid-era mandates, global polycrisis and general fatigue (even predating the pandemic) had many wondering whether CES truly had the staying power other industry trade shows and events seem to have lost. This was especially true considering 2023 was a tough year for the technology industry at large, with sweeping layoffs, budget cuts, regulatory pressure and supply chain issues dominating the headlines.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Melissa Harrison, vp of marketing and communications at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) was optimistic, stating that “you’re going to see the greatest minds, the most powerful brands and most impactful technology.” A few days after the closing of the show I must agree — CES 2024 was something to see. Trolling social posts of colleagues and friends onsite, reading news coverage and gossiping about what we were seeing with my teams on the ground had me genuinely excited. I was even a little jealous not to be on the ground amongst the “3,500+ exhibitors, 1,000+ startups and 130,000+ industry professionals,” that CTA said attended.

Why? Because CES 2024 had something we hadn’t seen in a while: a little magic. The show felt fresh, futuristic and energized, with more vision and prototypes than established products. What had started to become an auto and health focused show emerged, in many ways, as an AI show. But it was also a human show, digging into how AI and tech more broadly could improve our lives and collective experience — touching auto, healthcare and, yes, even nail salons.

Throughout the show, robots, futuristic vehicles, transparent TVS and AI-powered consumer gadgets were everywhere. There was a smart pillow, robot shoes and a baby cry translator, all of which featured prominently on product roundup lists. Consumer gadgets such as cocktail-making robots, remote control pet doors and facial recognition smart home locks drove coverage in top tier business and tech media. Samsung, one of our sector clients, showed off even cooler foldable phones, a robot ball and AI-enabled vacuums and refrigerators.

But the real star of the show may have been the show itself. Fast Company’s Harry McCraken wrote a piece on the staying power of CES. Anecdotal feedback from friends and colleagues hammered this point home. This was a truly energizing start to 2024…but what does it mean for the rest of the year?

Wars continue to wage, supply chains are crippled, a U.S. presidential election is looming. Despite this, what CES reminded me is that technology innovation is truly about giving us hope — and maybe a little magic. Hope for a better future where AI and robotics enhance the human experience. Where sustainability and taking care of ourselves and our planet remain a priority.

So as communications professionals, I’d like to take a cue from this year’s CES as we approach our year.

Takeaways from CES 2024

  • Be Bold: Like the startups and dreamers demoing concepts on the show floor. Take a few risks and don’t be afraid of mistakes. The best innovation comes from iteration, and you can’t always get it right the first time. A stake in the ground starts a conversation and gets people excited.
  • Have an eye on tomorrow: The concept of today is tomorrow’s reality. It’s fulfilling to see the future imagined by science fiction writers 80 years ago become reality. This is true across industries and markets — and will continue to be. Focus your energy on developing and communicate the vision that takes you into tomorrow.
  • Focus on the Good: Sustainability, equity and well-being were all topics touched on at CES by many different brands. During Covid, a support system grew for our fellow humans — and these topics were top of mind. As we’ve all returned to office and “normal,” let’s not lose that focus on doing good for each other, the environment and humanity overall. 

I cannot even begin to predict what this year will bring but I know one thing…you’ll see me at CES 2025!