Now that we’re done with a December’s worth of wholesome family enjoyment and good-natured holiday fun, it’s time for our annual retreat to the land of jingling-jangling slot machines and questionable moral decisions. Yes, it’s time for CES in Las Vegas! Much like the city it calls home, the show has changed character, evolving from its consumer electronics heritage to a platform that is relevant to every brand in how it interacts with its customers.

Here are the three big themes to spot at this year’s show:

All Aboard The GenAI Train

Last year, generative AI was but a glimmer in the eyes of CES; in 2024, it will be the crown jewel. With ChatGPT out of the box in November 2023, we’ve had a year and then some to work ourselves up to a frenzy for CES 2024. Of course, there is the little matter that many executives and most customers don’t understand what genAI is or does. But that won’t do anything to rain on the CES genAI parade. Amidst the plentiful and largely gratuitous proliferation of genAI at the event, expect novel applications of how this technology can be infused into new devices to provide more intuitive and immersive digital experiences. To understand what the tech is truly capable of, look for under-the-hood offerings from enablers such as Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA, which will showcase the keys (or chips and cards) to this wondrous AI land.

Technology Is Dead — Long Live The Experience

At some level, CES was (overwhelmingly so) and will continue to be (to a lesser degree) about gadgets — folding phones, wireless TVs, and talking toilets. But the thrust of the event has decisively shifted from technology-as-the-outcome to technology-as-the-means to powering customer experiences. This shift first came to the show floor a few years ago as companies like P&G, Colgate, and John Deere laid out their wares in the convention halls. Next, they went for the keynotes! 2024 marks the transition year when brands and retailers such as L’Oréal, Walmart, and Best Buy occupy the lion’s share of the center stage, displacing the more traditional tech companies.

Impact That Transcends Technology

The impact of technology is far-reaching, well beyond the gargantuan TVs and ping-pong-playing robots that occupy the cavernous convention halls. At CES 2024, expect a robust discussion on the implications wrought by the technology that 130,000 people will drool over. There will be discussions about AI, its impact on job loss, and the ethical considerations that surface with alarming regularity (there is a separate public policy track to cover these topics). Sustainability will continue to be a significant theme, as will accessibility — both to technology and how the technology enables and empowers people (like the AgeTech Collaborative with AARP).

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