CES 2023 expects big surge in Vegas attendance with vehicles, sensors front and center

CES 2023 will put a strong focus on vehicle tech at the in-person event in Las Vegas running Jan. 5-8. Event organizers have projected 100,000 people will come to see 2,200 exhibitors and attend 200 conference sessions in several venues spread across Sin City.

The annual event will again feature automotive and other vehicle  technology, with 300 vendors showing cars, boats and farm machines in the West Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Elsewhere, medical tech and food tech will be featured along with a Web3 program to focus on crypto currencies and blockchain that expands on a 2022 spotlight on the metaverse.

The larger West Hall exhibitors include Qualcomm, Mobileye and Amazon for Automotive, but also Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai Mobis, Stellantis and farm and construction equipment makers John Deere and Caterpillar. Despite strong electric vehicle roadmaps in coming years, GM and Ford are not exhibiting in West Hall, although GM CEO Mary Barra used CES in recent years to unveil ambitious EV and autonomous goals.  Many vendors who do not have a booth presence will attend CES to meet with partners and customers that comprise a large ecosystem, given a typical car now has 1,000 semiconductors, a number expected to double as autonomy expands.  

One large booth in the West Hall is devoted to Togg, also known as Turkey's Automobile Joint Venture group. While the focus for many vehicle vendors may appear to be on parts and other hardware, the growing trend is heading toward the software-defined vehicle where engineers play double duty in hardware and software design fields, using AI and robotics approaches for next-generation vehicles.

Many of the West Hall exhibitors appear to be showing tech related to self-driving and not only in-car infotainmment. They include an array of sensors vendors showing off lidar, radar and 3D camera MCUs and related products as the industry continues to weigh ideal sensor fusion concepts. Traditional chip designer Analog Devices also has a big booth in the hall years after moving into 3D imaging with Microsoft and into lidar.

Tesla, which does not have a booth at the event, appears to be making plans to use radar in its vehicles amid concerns over its Full Self-Driving $15,000 software upgrade.  Documents posted at the FCC last June indicate plans to add a new radar product, perhaps in mid-January, in some models running in the 76-77GHz frequency, even as Tesla has been a vision-only proponent for many years. To show how complex the issue of sensor fusion has become, Tesla dropped 12 ultrasonic sensors from Model 3 and Model 7 cars in October; that tech is often used in anti-collision safety.

At any rate, Tesla's plans might not become evident at CES 2023, but will likely be on the minds of all the engineers in the ever-growing sensing competition. Investors are still watching what Elon Musk plans to do about appointing another CEO at Twitter.

The 100,000 in-person attendance projection by Consumer Technology Association CEO Gary Shapiro represents more than a doubling of the 45,000 people who attended CES 2022 in January 2022, which in turn was far below the 170,000 who attended the previous in-person event in 2020 just at the outset of the global pandemic.

Covid-19 pushed CES online in 2021, then the omicron coronavirus variant surged in late 2021 prior to the 2022 event, apparently keeping many away.  At the last in-person event in January 2022, conference attendees were required to wear masks and show proof of vaccination before arrival.

For 2023, CES will make masks available but not require they be worn, even though Covid cases have surged in China after the government relaxed strict shutowns. CES also strongly encourages attendees to get vaccines and boosters, as well as annual flu shots. 

Even though CES 2023 is expecting a surge in in-person attendance, event organizers will still present 200 sessions online, many available on replay for several weeks following the event.  

The pandemic and online events have not been a replacement for in-person events, Shapiro said. “We’ve learned how much humans need other humans,” he said.  In-person events allow for what he called “the 5 cents experience” where serendipity comes into play and where technology startups can make an impact on potential investors and other audiences.

“As much as I like technology, I think nothing is more important than CES or other trade shows,” Shapiro said.

CES 2023 will feature product launches but also serve as a “platform for big ideas to enhance human capacity,” Shapiro said.

Of the 2,200 vendors expected at CES 2023, about 1,000 are startups at Eureka Park and other areas, although old favorites such as Microsoft will also exhibit, including with a booth in West Hall. There will be 20 country pavilions, including a Ukraine Tech exhibit.  

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