The Customer Electronics Show (CES) is closely watched annually by many consumers. However, this year it looked pretty different. From the minimum crowds to the missing tech giants, CES 2022 represented a great opportunity for smaller businesses to show their products to the public.
Some things were familiar, like companies showing off the latest batch of flashy TVs. The presentation of oddball gadgets got odder. Next-level health trackers were shown too, including a lightbulb that tracks how the person sleeps.
But this year’s CES was also an experiment on how to hold an event for big crowds during a pandemic. The fact that Covid-19 rapid tests were available to attendees, masks, and proof of vaccination was required, proves it. “It was surreal,” according to Martin DeBono, GAF Energy president, who attended in-person to show his company’s new solar roof shingle. “This was probably my eleventh year going to CES and the lack of crowds was bizarre.”
A piece of the metaverse for everyone
It’s pretty common that CES has a “next big thing” that everyone talks about every year. At CES 2022, the conversation was focused on the Metaverse, which refers to efforts to combine virtual and augmented reality technologies in a new online realm.
Facebook (FB) parent company Meta and its Oculus gaming system is by far the current market leader. The new PlayStation VR 2 headset, its VR2 Sense controller, the HTC’s Vive wrist controller, and the Vive Focus 3 headset, were shown at CES. These new products show the interest companies have now with immersive hardware and experiences.
For example, the VR2 Sense controller includes eye-tracking and headset feedback to amplify the sensations of realism. The company expressed that “gamers can feel a character’s elevated pulse during tense moments, the rush of objects passing close to the character’s head, or the thrust of a vehicle as the character speeds forward”, according to Pedro Pacheco, Senior Research Director at market research firm Gartner.
“This is the first time in a while that we see a new and strong topic emerging at CES, as for years this has always been about AI, internet-of-things, or autonomous vehicles,” Pedro adds. “At the moment, many companies are including Metaverse on their long-term tech roadmap thinking about how they should bring it to life”.
A Great Opportunity for Small Businesses
It is common that the attention at the CES tends to gravitate over the biggest tech companies. There were even concerns about this year’s event would center all attention on major exhibitors such as Meta and Amazon. But this year, new products got more press than previous years, due to the presence of brands that have never been in person before.
“Normally, when you come to a CES, it’s dominated by the biggest technology companies,” said Richard Browning, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer at Nextbase, which has launched a smart dash camera called Nextbase IQ. This year, the company’s new product got more press than expected in part “because a lot of the major brands haven’t been here in person,” he said.
While tech giants have a lot of ways to reach and raise audiences, CES is an important international event for small companies to reach new consumers and industry partners, and as such, it was a great opportunity for smaller businesses to get more attention on their products.