The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the world’s biggest technology conferences. This January, it will be a virtual event due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to go virtual is a reversal of an announcement made in May. Initially, organizers said the show would go on in person as a smaller gathering in Las Vegas, Nevada. How successful will a hands-on tech show be—if no one can touch the gadgets?
Tech shows give companies opportunity to reveal new ideas, introduce fun toys, and promote all kinds of new devices. The best part of a tech show? People get to try out new technology.
The CES announcement is yet another blow for the tourist industry in Las Vegas. The city is suffering as people choose to stay home rather than vacation there. More than 170,000 people attended the gadget show last January, prior to COVID-19’s spread across the United States.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) organizes CES. It changed its thinking about the annual event as COVID-19 cases rose around the world. Gary Shapiro is the CEO of CTA. He said the pandemic is making it impossible to hold an indoor event in January 2021.
There is uncertainty over whether employees of big tech companies would be allowed to travel by January. For example, Google said this week that its employees should plan to work from home until at least July 2021.
The pandemic has disrupted other major tech events around the globe. Europe’s biggest consumer electronics trade fair is Germany’s IFA. Last year, it drew nearly a quarter million people over six days. This year’s event will last for three days, and there will be no public access.
Portugal’s Web Summit features high profile tech CEOs and celebrities. It will also be held online this year.
The digital version of the CES gadget show begins on January 6, 2021, and will last four days.
(People look at a 145-inch Ultra Large UHD display in the LG booth at the CES tech show on January 8, 2020, in Las Vegas. AP Photo/John Locher, File)