CES 2024 featured a wide array of innovative products, tools and services; Chris Nurko from Interband looks at some of the biggest highlights from the annual tech showcase in Las Vegas.

CES made a triumphant return to Las Vegas last week, with almost every major tech brand and company across the world (except for Apple) participating. This year’s theme, ‘ALL ON’, certainly set the tone for what will be a pivotal year in the tech and consumer landscape.

AI leads among key themes

As expected, this year’s show was dominated by discussions around artificial intelligence (AI), emphasising its role in enhancing productivity rather than causing fear. The focus was on how AI – especially generative AI – will augment our abilities, make work more efficient and open new possibilities.

Noteworthy applications included AI-driven chatbots handling 80% of consumer service interactions and how algorithms powered by large language models (LLM) will transform after-sales service.

Key tech brands like Google, LG, Samsung and Microsoft also showcased their innovations, while Apple's influence still loomed over various sectors. L'Oréal explored sustainability in the intersection of beauty and tech; Siemens discussed the industrial metaverse; and Hyundai showcased how AI and robotics can be used in heavy construction.

Connectivity emerged as a key theme, linking next-gen data/cloud, micro-processing and powerful chips to fuel AI and immersive experiences. The importance of both AI and sustainability in shaping investments, partnerships and experiences for major organisations was also underscored.

LG had an impressive ‘win’ of over 33 innovation awards and – along with SK and Samsung – had one of the most impressive exhibition booths, not only featuring its OLED screen technology, but the world’s first fully transparent TV screen.

An emphasis on using sustainable materials in booth design and exhibition spaces saw Panasonic and Samsung truly championing environmental messages, along with AI being available and accessible for all.

The future of transportation

Beyond its origins as a consumer electronics show, CES has evolved into a platform for automotive and mobility innovations, a hub for health tech advancements, an arena for investor scouting of start-ups and tech scalability, and a pivotal meeting point where every business and brand is inherently a tech entity.

For brands, CES serves as the foremost occasion to demonstrate products, services, business models and innovative experiences. It stands as the exclusive venue for debuting the latest models and releases.

The mobility category alone had over 300 exhibitors and focussed on the integration of autonomous driving into vehicles on the market today. The impact of this demand, and the race to build battery and grid infrastructure solutions, was also widely discussed.

Transport on sea and in the air wasn’t overlooked, either, as both ‘green tech’ solutions and autonomous controls shift the emphasis away from pure engine speed and motor performance to more intelligent models of transport.

The narrative in 2024 is how electric vehicles (EV) are in ascendancy thanks to regulatory incentives, innovative charging capabilities, engine and energy technologies, and SMART city infrastructures. This applies to all aspects of mobility and leisure related to replacing combustible engines and fossil fuel energy in all forms of transport.

We saw Honda launch its new 0 series EV line, as well as Sony and Honda’s next-gen Afeela car. Togg, the Turkish EV company, also launched a whole in-car system of advanced screen personalisation involving a sound, light and AI-generated integrated driving experience using sustainable materials.

Pioneer, a leader in mobility navigation (and sound), introduced a new real-time, AI-enabled security system to prevent automotive theft and damage with integrated cameras and sound, as well as using a light bar panel and the windscreen as an external medium for amplifying sound.

We also saw the EV Volt ‘drone car’ alongside some impressive new drone and remote autonomous applications for vehicles, transport and logistics.

Digitising health

It became clear at CES that telehealth and self-monitoring devices are now very firmly embedded in overall healthcare protocols and practices. Patient-centricity and ‘precision care’ are both being enabled and connected through technology, and the implications for more affordable and accessible healthcare via technology are significant – from diagnostics to therapeutics.

As more advanced technology such as quantum computing is applied to human health, the bioengineering of products, medicines and materials is changing our perspectives on healthy populations.

Genomics is where science and technology are making great breakthroughs, and at CES there was widespread evidence of global startups and industry specialisations looking into how genetic tech application will be the ‘norm’ in future medical and healthcare solutions.

Deep tech impact on sustainable energy

There was an undercurrent discussion of how ‘new’ and ‘clean’ energy solutions are dependent on advanced ‘deep tech’ solutions, and the application of SMART applications across the Internet of Things (IoT).

Extended battery storage and distribution, as well as more sustainable and circular solutions in power, are needed.

To address the energy challenges and reduce carbon impact resulting in climate change, new tech is bringing a sustainable systems approach to agriculture, drinking water, urban environment development and improved air quality. This year, hydrogen solutions were also more prominent, as conversations moved on from when sustainability was just EV.

The most exciting innovations

One of my favourite parts of CES is getting to discover new things and technologies on the exhibition floor. It is inspiring to see innovations that have the potential to reshape our lives and behaviours. Here are a few that piqued my interest…

  1. Sosalinno’s solar powered desalinisation: Accessible drinking water is a major problem in many parts of the world. Making desalinisation accessible and affordable was the objective through solar- and thermal-powered technology. Fully portable, this solution can produce five litres of drinking water from seawater per day.
  2. Swarovski Optik AX Visio smart binoculars: A great innovation for bird watchers. Using digital high lens focus techniques to optimise viewing, these binoculars are smart/AI-enabled, which means the lens is actually a camera connected to the internet and is able to identify over 8,000 species through image and search.
    Applicable to birds, mammals and, soon to come, plants, these binoculars can also geolocate and capture data, which means rare sightings or souvenir memories can be captured, stored and shared. They are available from next month for $4,800, but expect them to quickly scale and bring the cost down in the near future as adoption occurs.
  3. Celestron Origin Intelligent Home Observatory and Vaonis Hestia are helping anyone be an astronomer. The former is a telescope that pairs with an AI-enabled app to peer into the sky, understand constellations and stars, as well as learn more about all things astronomy, even with urban lighting. Vaonis, a French startup, can help turn your smartphone into an observatory, too.
  4. XPeng AeroHT flying car: This is a concept car but one that truly breaks new ground in both design and materials (lighter, more carbon neutral).
  5. MidBar’s AirFarm, an inflatable and modular farm that can be assembled anywhere there is sunlight and warmth, making a portable farm that does not require earth and only minimal amounts of water. It was an award winner.
  6. SQPV energy-harvesting clear solar glass, where your windows actually can generate electricity from sunlight, harnessing energy to then transfer to the vehicle or home. If combined with Pioneer’s audio-glass amplifier or LG’s transparent OLED TV screen, we could begin to see an in-home power grid.