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Sustainability taking center stage at CES

By LIA ZHU in Las Vegas | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-01-09 10:17


Las Vegas event expected to showcase key trends in technology innovation

Fueled by surging internet access, the world is poised for continued tech innovation, said experts, pointing to three key trends as the driving forces shaping the world: artificial intelligence, sustainability, and inclusivity.

Imagine Alibaba's e-commerce platform anticipating users' needs with accuracy, powered by AI-enabled machine learning; witness enhanced digital twins that simulate physical environments for limitless research and development at a fraction of the cost.

These are just a taste of the "much larger" AI ecosystem which expands from chips all the way to robots, said Brian Comiskey, director of thematic programs at the Consumer Technology Association, or CTA, at a conference ahead of the CES 2024, which officially runs from Jan 9-12 in Las Vegas.

As the climate crisis intensifies, the race for a greener future accelerates. "Think about all the breakthroughs and advances we've seen in electric vehicles, renewable power sources, … this has really pushed toward that greener tomorrow," said Comiskey.

"Sustainability is going to be a huge trend at CES 2024," he said. For example, one sustainable technology on display is fully customizable solar cells that can be integrated into any consumer electronics, such as headphones, or even GPS-enabled dog trackers, he said.

He also cited other "solar breakthroughs", such as a robot that moves around with extendible solar panels which can serve as a means of power in campsites or as an emergency power backup source.

Other novel innovations in the sustainability sector include the "air farm" which is an inflatable and portable, smart farm that can grow food sustainably in deserts and drought-impacted areas, according to Comiskey.

As to inclusivity, which means accessibility, diversity and equality, Comiskey said, people are going to see a convergence of health and wellness innovation.

An example of digital health solutions for women is a wearable AI bracelet that tracks menopausal hot flashes, triggering a connected cooling pad for a restful night's sleep. Healthcare for all becomes a reality through these accessible and intelligent solutions, he noted.

Women's digital health industry is forecast to reach $1.2 trillion by 2027, said Jessica Boothe, director of research at CTA. Digital health solutions will help lower costs and reduce the healthcare disparity for women, she added.

This year, the skies open up with "flying cars" like the aircraft of Xpeng AeroHT, an affiliate of China's Xpeng Motors. The company will showcase an electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft at CES 2024.

TV remains a CES mainstay, evolving into an intelligent home hub. Picture walls stretch across rooms, boasting stunning picture technology and innovative features like wireless foldable displays. Chinese giants like TCL and Hisense lead the charge, blurring the line between screen and smart home control center.

Acceleration of connectivity

The CTA report also predicts that the world will see rapid tech innovations in coming years, thanks to the global connectivity acceleration.

Internet access has been the engine for global economic growth and fosters social connections, according to the report, which shows that 5.4 billion people are connected to the internet today and 1 billion more are expected to come online by 2027.

In China, that figure — of people being connected to the internet — has surged to over 70 percent over the last few years. "It means we're at a major runway for continued growth here," said Comiskey.

Formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, the largest technology exhibition in the world went online in 2021 because of the pandemic. CES 2022 saw a quarter of the event's typical attendance.

This year, the exhibition is expected to attract over 130,000 attendees, with more than 4,000 exhibitors from over 150 countries and regions.

"We are scaling back after the pandemic; companies are starting to return to this event this year," Comiskey told China Daily.

"China plays a role in that. You're seeing those numbers start to come back up for China."

He said it's important to see breakthroughs from anywhere, including China, because "technology is in our day-to-day lives that can help improve our daily lives".

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