After going remote at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, CES returned to Las Vegas in 2022 for a hybrid experience. Many companies opted to continue virtually attending the annual consumer trade show. Even though CES 2023 is not expected to recapture the entire grandeur of years past, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) that hosts the event anticipates around 100,000 attendees.
CES 2023 runs from January 5 to 8, and it still offers an option for remote attendance. In spite of an economy that’s worrisome for most CEOs and last year’s major flops (remember NFTs?), innovative hardware announcements will continue to make a splash on the showroom floor. From cohesive developments in the smart home category to peculiar designs for electric vehicles, here’s what you can expect at CES 2023.
Interoperability That Matters
What if every aspect of your smart home actually worked together, even if the products were made by different companies? Matter, a new protocol from the Connectivity Standards Alliance, enables seamless interoperability between smart home devices from Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, and other manufacturers. Previous fragmentation held back the overall smart home experience, especially for consumers who wanted to mix and match gadgets. “The great promise of the smart home, literally since its inception, is that all the connected gadgets would work seamlessly together,” WIRED senior editor Michael Calore tells me. “That hasn’t been the case at all, so Matter feels like the next big step toward that promised interoperability.”
Launched last year in November, almost 300 products are already Matter-certified, with more announcements expected at CES 2023. “Matter makes smart home devices easier to buy for consumers as they can now choose the products that best fit their needs, regardless of what ecosystem, smartphone, app, or voice assistant they have,” writes Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, over email. Lights, locks, and thermostats are a few of the categories currently supported. The company is working to extend compatibility for additional smart home devices like cameras, appliances, and smoke detectors.
Its unique approach to smart home security uses blockchain technology. Richardson writes, “Matter also raises the bar for security, using blockchain to validate and store credentials on the home network, encrypting messages (commands) between devices, enabling local control (no cloud), and including a pathway to easy security updates.” Safety experts point out cloud control as a major weakness when it comes to securing the data collected by your smart home.
The Metaverse Sobers Up
At last year’s CES, plans for a utopian metaverse where consumers would live, work, and play like never before were a primary focus. While not completely scrapped, the unquestioned excitement for the concept has dissipated due to billions of dollars lost, slow consumer adoption, and turbulent macroeconomic factors.
Although the tenor of discussions is subdued, you can expect hardware innovations to continue for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality devices. WIRED reviews editor Julian Chokkattu anticipates a potential breakthrough moment for smart glasses as they become less cumbersome: “That’s been one of the biggest barriers to the category, and I think we can expect some companies to showcase some strides in making components smaller and lighter, so that AR glasses don’t have to be thick, ugly, and heavy.”
Mighty Morphin’ Electric Vehicles
During CES 2023, you can bank on seeing plenty of electric vehicles that don’t match the aesthetics of a typical car. “Since EVs don’t have gas tanks or traditional drivetrains, and since their battery packs can be shaped flat, the interior flooring doesn’t have all the bumps or humps that we’ve been dealing with for decades,” writes Calore. “That frees up the designers to think about the interior in new ways, from seating configurations to entertainment systems.” Although the more outlandish ideas will not be available anytime soon at your local dealer, the concept cars provide a small peek into what might be on the road five or 10 years in the future.
A Saturation of Sustainability
Whether it’s smartphone cases created from recycled materials or TV remotes that don’t need batteries, companies will continue to rethink their manufacturing process to placate a growing consumer demand for sustainable goods. “I’m seeing more and more companies highlight how a product is made and whether it uses recycled or sustainable materials, which seems to be the trajectory where everyone is heading,” writes Chokkattu.
Sustainability trends may even impact your at-home spa nights! Decadent bubble baths are out. Decadent (albeit short) showers are in. “My one weird observation is that when the pandemic started, everyone was really talking about baths, like Kohler’s ultra-luxurious Stillness Bath. Now, people are more concerned about sustainability and water usage, which means that I’m seeing a lot of ultra-luxurious, uh, showers,” shares WIRED senior associate reviews editor Adrienne So. “I’m going to go ahead and say that luxury showering is going to be a trend in 2023. Installing a low-flow showerhead that heats the air around it is good. Just don’t stay in the shower for 40 minutes.”
Of course, CES this year will include a flurry of new product announcements, from a wireless TV that uses vacuum suction to stick on the wall to gaming laptops that are just a wee bit bigger. Chokkattu anticipates further developments for smartphone cameras, with improved data collection for applications like skin condition detection.
So still expects companies to launch health tracking devices specifically made for “fertile, pregnant, or immediately postpartum people,” despite the overturning of Roe v. Wade. She also foresees an impending proliferation of satellite messengers that are affordable and easy to use for anyone who wants to stay safe when they’re off the grid.
Michael Calore, Julian Chokkattu, and Adrienne So contributed to this report.