The first-ever, all-digital CES® 2021 made history as the largest digital tech event. Almost 2000 companies unveiled next-gen innovation for a better future. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, the all-digital CES 2021 featured product launches from startups to tech giants, keynotes from global industry leaders, live entertainment from Hollywood and more than 100 hours of conference programming.
“The all-digital CES 2021 engaged the global tech community to experience innovation, make connections and conduct business,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “CES showed how the pandemic accelerated the arc of innovation and illustrated the resilience and innovative spirit of our industry. From the latest innovations for the home and entertainment, and advances in 5G, vehicle technology, AI and digital health, the technologies at CES 2021 will pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.”
CES 2021 kicked off on Jan. 11 with Media Day, featuring 19 press conferences with companies including Bosch, Canon, Caterpillar, Hisense, Intel, LG Electronics, Mercedes-Benz, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics and Sony breaking news and launching products. Trends from Media Day focused on “the home” with innovation that personalizes work, health and entertainment at home, as well as advancements in transportation and mobility.
Almost 2000 companies launched products during the all-digital CES 2021, including almost 700 startups from 37 countries. Exhibiting companies included tech giants, such as Intel, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics and Sony, as well as non-traditional tech companies, from AARP to Bridgestone, Caterpillar, Indy Autonomous Challenge, John Deere, L’Oréal, Moen and Procter & Gamble. New companies exhibiting at CES 2021 included ASUS, BioIntelliSense, Bose, Sono Motors and Volvo Penta.
“The industry came together digitally at CES 2021. This was a medium for companies to make announcements, launch products and connect with their audiences,” said Karen Chupka, executive vice president, CES. “The all-digital format brought new voices to the tech conversation.”
Industry leaders took to the all-digital CES keynote stage to make major announcements, including:
- Verizon: Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon, demonstrated the immersive 5G experience across sports, education, connected communities and live music, and announced partnerships with the NFL, UPS, Live Nation Clubs and Theaters, The Met and the Smithsonian.
- General Motors: Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors (GM), launched new product lines from GM, including the Cadillac eVTOL, a concept air taxi; and a new business unit devoted to electrifying the goods delivery market.
- AMD: Dr. Lisa Su, president and CEO of AMD, revealed the new Ryzen 5000 series mobile processors with two categories – the H-series, for laptops intended for gaming and content creation and the U-series, for ultraportable notebooks.
- Best Buy: Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy, shared how the company shifted during the pandemic and put the customer in control of buying, whether from home, curbside or in person.
- Future Reimagined: Michael Miebach, CEO of Mastercard, and Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, predicted tech trends they expect to see over the next decade.
- Walmart: Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, discussed ways 5G, AI and robotics will change the business; how Walmart pivoted to keep employees healthy and customers satisfied; and the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
- Microsoft: Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, gave his vision on ensuring cybersecurity and customer privacy protection, and discussed the tech industry’s responsibility to exercise our conscience.
- Entertainment Transformed: Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO of MediaLink, and Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, described the ever-evolving entertainment industry and what the industry will look like in a post-pandemic world. Maverick Carter, CEO of The Springhill Co.; Adrienne Lofton, VP, North America Marketing, NIKE; and Deborah Wahl, Global CMO of General Motors, discussed how marketers and brands are adjusting and creating in today’s landscape.
Key Themes at CES 2021
The all-digital CES 2021 featured groundbreaking innovation that will improve our world, from health to safety, sustainability and accessibility.
- Tech Innovation Accelerated by COVID-19
- Tech companies innovated during the pandemic, with companies at CES 2021 featuring smart masks, disinfecting robots, body sensors that detect COVID-19 symptoms and smart air filtration systems.
- Consumer Privacy and Trust
- The heads of privacy at Amazon, Google and Twitter discussed new privacy regulations and the need to increase consumer trust, stating that tech companies must give users more control over their data.
- Global Tech Challenge
- The Global Tech Challenge, launched at CES 2020, in partnership with the World Bank and CTA, rewards tech solutions in three areas: digital health in East Africa, resilience in India and gender equality around the world. The selected winners were announced this week from more than 1000 applications, with three winners selected for gender equality, 10 for resilience and 17 for digital health.
- Space Tech
- NASA was joined by leaders from Lockheed Martin and Space Tango to discuss technology’s role in accelerating space research and breakthroughs that will benefit all of humanity.
CES Anchor Desk
The CES Live Anchor Desk was a true broadcast experience, bringing the latest CES news and highlights with anchors including:
- Justine Ezarik (iJustine) – Host + Tech Content Creator @ijustine
- Rich DeMuro – Tech reporter for KTLA-TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles @richontech
- Naomi Kyle – Host and Producer @NaomiKyle
- Brian Tong – Tech Host & Content Creator @briantong
The Anchor Desk featured interviews with top industry leaders and visionaries including entrepreneur Mark Cuban; musician and tech entrepreneur will.i.am; HRH Constantijn van Oranje, The Netherlands; Shelley Zalis, The Female Quotient and CES Official Equality Partner; and leaders from AT&T, Audi, Bosch, FIFA, Humana, Hyperion, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Material Impact, OMRON Healthcare, Philips, P&G, Samsung Electronics and United Talent Agency.
Conference Program and Special Events
The CES conference program showcased more than 100 hours of programming. Sessions covered pressing topics including privacy, the future of AI and health care, autonomous transportation, trends in retail and tech policy. The future of entertainment was reimagined at CES 2021, with a special event featuring Ryan Seacrest and music superstars Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa, as they discussed how tech has enabled the creation of a new immersive fan experience.
CTA continued its commitment to driving diversity in tech with its latest investment, announcing an investment in VC fund Plum Alley. This is part of its $10 million commitment to venture firms and funds that invest in women, people of color and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. Plum Alley invests in founding teams of women, and women and men and has an impressive representation of women founders from many backgrounds and ethnic groups in the STEM fields including Dr. Jennifer Doudna, who recently won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. CTA announced its $10 million funding commitment on stage at CES 2019.
Government Leaders at CES 2021
Government leaders and policymakers from the U.S. and around the globe participated in the all-digital CES 2021, sharing their insight into the future of innovation. Policymakers included Director-Designate of the U.S. National Economic Council for the incoming Biden administration Brian Dreese; French Minister of State for Digital Transition and Electronic Communications Cédric O; State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy for The Netherlands Mona Keijzer; and UK Minister of Transport Rachel McLean
Global Reach of CES 2021
CES 2021 was truly a global event, with attendees joining from over 150 countries and over 1300 exhibitors coming from outside the United States, including more than 530 international startups. Country Group Organizers brought large delegations of exhibitors included Canada, France, Israel, Italy, Japan and South Korea. CES 2021 featured startups from Nigeria and Russia for the first time.