CES 2021 Opens with Predictions on Tech Trends for the Year

At the opening of the all-digital CES 2021 this week, Consumer Technology Association vice president of research Steve Koenig and director of research Lesley Rohrbaugh described their predictions for innovation and technology trends to expect in the coming year, noting that the CTA provides 30 studies a year on its website. Koenig put 2021 in context as following a tough 2020 of COVID-19 and related economic downturn. “As a global community we confronted a lot of those challenges together and saw a myriad of solutions from tech innovation,” he said.

Referring to 2020 trends that will continue throughout the next year, Koenig noted that, “When the economy is at its worst, we see innovation at its best.” Proof of such acceleration, according to McKinsey data, includes the fact that it took Disney+ only five months to reach 50 million subscribers, a feat that took Netflix seven years to achieve.

The data reveals that e-commerce accelerated 10 years in eight weeks; telemedicine had ten-times growth in 15 days; and, in two weeks, 250 million students went online. Other market segments that are in fast-forward mode include the Internet of Things, with AI and machine learning; robotics process automation; natural language processing and cloud computing.

Rohrbaugh revealed that CTA research found six major areas of trending technology: digital health, robotics & drones, 5G connectivity, digital transformation, vehicle technology and smart cities. She noted that connected health monitoring devices are pegged to rise to $845 million in 2021, from $632 million in 2020, a 34 percent uptick. The digital health industry will reach $11.8 billion by 2027, she added.

She pointed out that, with regard to software-based interventions to enhance clinician decision and patient monitoring, Epsy, an epilepsy monitoring app, was honored with a CES 2021 innovation award.

Wearables are now available not just in wrist-located devices, but rings (Oura Ring) and chest-monitors (BioButton by BioIntelliSense, another CES innovation honoree).

Digital transformation, noted Koenig is taking place for small businesses such as gyms as well as education and legal environments. He also described the impact of COVID-19 on the growth of robotics, from robots that clean and disinfect to drones and robots that make contactless delivery and stock shelves. Rohrbaugh noted Amazon’s autonomous delivery Scout, which has had a “greatly accelerated implementation” and the UPS/CVS partnership with Matternet’s M2 drones.

With regard to cloud computing, Flexera data showed in its 2020 State of the Cloud report that the pandemic ignited a speedier transition, with 59 percent of those surveyed expecting that cloud usage will exceed plans due to COVID-19. Sixty-two percent plan to focus on cloud migration and 83 percent cited security as their top cloud challenge, followed by cost.

Trends in smart cities and vehicles/transportation are linked to the increased availability of 5G. Koenig reported that about 135 commercial 5G networks reaching more than 1 billion people around the world have debuted. He listed trends in vehicles including Mobility as a Service (MaaS), C-V2X Connectivity, self-driving fleets and electrification, with GM’s announcement of its all-electric future taking center stage.

Rohrbaugh added, “networked sensors, smart kiosks, data dashboards, and contact tracing are all areas to watch.”

Click here for more information on the speakers, panels and new products at CES 2021 (#CES2021).

To view or download the full 30-minute video, CTA’s 2021 Tech Trends to Watch, click below. (Video content courtesy of the Consumer Technology Association. All rights reserved.)