Biggest Trends of CES 2021

Every year the biggest names in tech gather to show off their newest innovations and developments at the Consumer Electronics Show. From tech solutions for the age of COVID-19 to making our cities smarter and cleaner, the products, trends, and releases from CES set the (virtual) stage for the coming year.

We attended a presentation by the Consumer Technology Association’s heads of research, Steve Koenig and Lesley Rorhbaugh, predicting the biggest tech trends for 2021.


Digital health

From the way we work and go to school to the way we stay in touch, the COVID-19 pandemic affected all of us in 2020 and beyond. The pandemic was a common theme throughout the press conference, but it was most prevalent within the medical and digital health world. 

Digital health is a wide-spanning area of tech that ranges from how we connect with our medical professionals to how we measure our own health. More and more people opt for virtual appointments with their doctors and healthcare providers. Senior care, wellness wearables, and easier health tracking is entering the conversation more and more.

Telehealth

If you’ve ever had a video call with a doctor or caregiver, you’ve used telehealth. And while it won’t replace in-person treatments, telehealth’s expansion in 2021 can help people make changes at home to make them healthier. The definition of telehealth will shift as new technologies emerge to include devices and apps that allow patients to monitor their own health and send data to doctors.

It’s an especially great solution for seniors and their caregivers. During the pandemic, older adults have been isolated to stay safe. But with digital checkups, wearable monitors, loved ones and health providers can care for vulnerable populations without putting anyone at risk.

We can expect to see more wearables, apps, and digital health trackers in the next year. Anything that can be measured—from blood pressure and heart rate to epilepsy—can help doctors make better diagnoses and put healthcare into the hands of the patients.

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Hygiene tech and healthier homes

Many of us stayed home during 2020, spending our days working, eating, and entertaining ourselves inside. And tech companies have noticed. In 2021, expect to see devices with solutions for cleaner, healthier homes.

Clean Air Zone air purifier

Clean Air Zone air purifier

For example, air purifiers were part of the hygiene movement at CES 2021. Between the pandemic, our homebody lifestyle, and last year’s wildfires, companies like Clean Air Zone are rethinking how we clean the air in our homes. This air purifier skips filters and UV lights and goes right back to nature with a microbiome inside that “digests” harmful particles.

Going virtual

Digital transformation is tech-world speak for, “going virtual.” In the last year, businesses and individuals had to adjust to a new normal of logging onto digital platforms for work, school, and hobbies. And that doesn’t seem to be changing in 2021.

Even CES was virtual this year and united companies and attendees from all over the world in one digital space.

From sales floors to factory floors, fewer people working in-person means a higher need for automation. This year will open the door to platforms for video conferencing, virtual tours, online classes, and beyond.

More time online means more digital safety

Distance learning and working aren't going anywhere soon. As classrooms use distance learning and offices choose to meet over video platforms, you can expect to be online more often in 2021.

If you’re working from home in 2021, follow safety guidelines to keep your computer (and your information) safe.

And if you have kids taking classes online, familiarize yourself with the platforms and programs they use like Google Hangouts or Zoom. Keeping your kids safe online will become more important as businesses and services move into the digital world.

Cutii the senior robot connecting to a video call.

Robotics

At this point, it’s hard to imagine a future without robots. Even now they clean our homes, care for loved ones, and deliver our packages

With the pandemic, reducing person-to-person contact can help fight disease now and in the future. UVD robots in hospitals help disinfect surfaces and robot triage units may keep things moving smoothly for patients.

Robots and senior care

Cutii is a senior-friendly robot coming to the US this year from a French company by the same name. Designed for senior homes and assisted living facilities, Cutii is a friendly robot designed to keep folks company, remind them of appointments, and host video chats with friends and family. 

Vehicle tech

Safer, more connected vehicles mean safer, more connected roads. Vehicle tech is always a big draw during CES, but with people staying home, the focus shifted more towards vehicle connectivity, electrification, and self-driving technology. 

Safer vehicles on the road

C-V2X is the biggest technology you’ve never heard of.

Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything is a big piece of the technological puzzle coming for smart cities and 5G we’ll see this year and in the years to come. 

C-V2X allows vehicles to communicate with each other, letting cars share data with each other in real time to avoid accidents, detect obstacles, and see things long before the driver gets there. The best part is drivers won’t have to do anything, so you can put down your phone and enjoy the ride.

Greener vehicles

While electric vehicles are nothing new, more big-name automakers are adopting a greener future. GM, for example, is planning an all-electric future. With more and more electric vehicles on the road each year, we can expect cleaner air and more efficient driving in 2021 and the future.

Bell
Greener homes on the way

Along with greener vehicles, greener homes were another major trend we saw at CES. Check out our full coverage of sustainable home tech coming out of CES 2021

5G networks

While it began in 2018, 5G infrastructure will be popping up everywhere in 2021. You may start seeing towers in your own neighborhood (there are three in mine already). 

But 5G isn’t just about faster internet and new phones. This new network can bring new jobs as it expands worldwide over the next decade. With it, 5G brings more bandwidth for technologies like smart cities, better cellular communications, and smart home devices. 

As of January, it’s still being rolled out across the country. But we expect we’ll start to see more applications by the end of the year. 

Light Bulb
What is 5G, exactly?

Like its predecessor 4G, 5G is a wireless network. 

It connects anything and everything wireless from your cell phone to your smart plug. It promises faster speeds, less lagging, and greater bandwidth for more room to fit wide-spanning technologies like smart cities.

Smart cities

Smarter cities can lead to safer cities. By combining innovations like 5G, AI, and IoT devices, we’ll start seeing advances in the coming decade that can streamline traffic, improve waste collection, and clean the air. 

It could mean better contact tracing during the pandemic, smart kiosks to help passersby, and better energy use for big cities across the world. 

While the idea of smart cities is still in development, we’re already seeing progress pop up across the country. Ride sharing programs and electric vehicle charging stations, for example, are common examples of smart city infrastructure.

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Sources

Steve Koening and Lesley Rohrbaugh, CES 2021, “CTA’s 2021 Tech Trends to Watch,” January 11, 2021. Accessed January 11, 2021.

Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
Katie McEntire has tested home security systems in her own apartment, installed GPS trackers in her own car, and watched her cat, Toki, nap all day through a live nanny cam feed. As an expert reviewer, she believes that firsthand experience is the best way to learn about new products (even if it requires being the guinea pig). She specializes in pet safety and DIY security and has contributed to publications like DigitalCare.org and TechGuySmartBuy.