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Emerging Tech Identified at CES

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Feb. 8, 2021—While many would rather forget the past year, a special presentation by the Consumer Technology Association reminded us of the good—advancements in technology. 

Despite everything the past year has brought us, there were also huge advancements made in technology across several key areas such as health, robotics, fitness, delivery, smart cities, and more, said Lesley Rohrbaugh, director of research for CTA. 

Rohrbaugh and Steve Koenig, vice president of research for CTA, dove into each of the ways technology has impacted our way of life in the past year, and how this may just be the beginning.

Koenig began the presentation by saying, “It’s a new year, thank goodness.”


Vehicle Technology

When it comes to vehicle technology, Koenig said this last year saw a few common themes: mobility as a service (MaaS), self-driving fleets, and the elephant in the room: electrification. 

“General Motors’ ‘electric future’ is very significant,” he said, referencing the automaker’s recent announcement to stop all production of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. “We can expect more and more lineups to be punctuated with electric vehicles.”  

Next, Koenig went on to stress the importance of manufacturing electric trucks in the coming years. For many years trucks have been the No. 1 selling vehicle in America, he said. “The electric truck market is a huge swing factor in the success for the electric vehicle market in the U.S.” 

During the presentation, Koenig, a self-described truck enthusiast, highlighted GM’s upcoming Hummer EV as an example. The truck can “crab walk” diagonally and is said to be available this fall for just $112,595. 


Robotics and Drones

The development and deployment of robotics for the last year primarily revolved around one service, said Rohrbaugh—delivery. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, Americans and consumers across the globe have turned to delivery services to receive essential items, Rohrbaugh said . 

Even General Motors announced its entry into the delivery sphere with BrightDrop, a new venture that will create all-electric delivery vehicles and other technology, like electric pallets for transporting heavy cargo. 

Autonomous vehicles have also made strides during the last year, said Rohrbaugh, helping to deliver “crucial products like food and medical supplies.” 

While delivery services made up a large part of the market, Rohrbaugh said developments in robotics were also used to create cleaning and sanitizing robots for hospitals and stores. 

“People are relying on technology to help them live more normal lives during the health crisis,” she said. 



Additional trends from CES—out of the driver’s seat. 

Digital Transformation: 

  • Schools have converted to online learning, which Koenig acknowledged to be a “sensitive topic,” but went on to say “thank goodness we’ve had digital tools to keep students in front of their teachers.”

  • Koenig said the small business sector went digital, even gyms converting to virtual fitness classes. 

  • Even legal proceedings have been able to continue with digital hearings, Koenig said. 

Digital Health:

  • Patient care has evolved in the last year, Rohrbaugh said, with tele-health options like digital check-ins for both mental and physical health. 

  • Service providers have also been more efficient with autonomous delivery systems carrying medical supplies, Rohrbaugh said. 

  • The pandemic also accelerated pre-existing trends such as personal health apps.


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