올해 CES 메인 테마는 전기차와 5G VIDEO: Top 6 trends to expect at CES 2021

Top 6 trends to expect at CES 2021

From EVs and 5G to transparent screens and pandemic tech, CES will set the stage for what's next in the tech industry.

This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

This will be a CES like no other, as we experience it remotely from across the globe on our own screens. CES is still going to do what CES does best -- show off the latest innovations and ideas in tech, and set the agenda for what's happening in the industry in the months and years ahead. CNET will cover every category with our team of experienced reporters and editors who will dig up the most compelling products and the most important stories. Here's how to watch CNET's livestream on the first day of CES 2021.

To get you prepped for this year's virtual show, here's a rundown of what to expect at CES 2021.

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1. There will be less noise and more signal

This year's virtual CES will feature around 2,000 vendors. For context, last year's show in Las Vegas had 4,500. Typically, one of the biggest challenges of CES is the sheer amount of information clutter you have to sort through to find the good stuff. CNET always accepts the mission of filtering the key CES products and trends for consumers. This year will be a little different with less than half of the companies involved. The vendors showing up to 2021's all-digital CES are more likely to have something new and interesting to talk about, rather than just showing up because they always do and they already had the hotel booked.

2. The pandemic bandwagon will get crowded

Companies are going to be pitching a lot of tech to help people cope with COVID-19 fears, lockdown life and working and learning from home. In the health and smart home spaces, we're going to see high-tech masks, smart air purifiers, more hands-free devices, UV-C lights to kill germs and plenty more. Certainly, computer-makers will lean into over a third of American employees working from home to pitch devices and accessories to make their work lives easier. And home entertainment vendors will pitch TVs, soundbars and streaming devices and services to a public that is still stuck getting nearly all of its entertainment in the living room.

3. Transparent OLEDs will create buzz

With more of us at home, binge-watching, TVs were in high demand. Which is why we always pay attention to the next coming attractions in TVs at CES. There's always a massive TV or a rollable TV or another impressive -- if gimmicky -- new screen technology that becomes the flashy showpiece of CES. This year it's likely to be LG's transparent OLED screens. These are going from 10% transparent to 40% transparent, which opens up new possibilities for lots of creative use cases. Some of the ones that LG will show off at CES 2021 will include a smart bed where the OLED screen rises out of the footboard, a smart subway window where the maps and schedules are overlaid on the glass, and a restaurant partition between booths where you can see large images of menu items and even watch a chef prepare your meal.

4. The biggest gadget will take center stage

Automakers have been using CES as a platform to talk about what they call the "digitization and electrification" of the car for over a decade now. The problem is that it's been mostly talk from the world's biggest automakers, who make beautiful prototypes but have dragged their feet in making real progress. Momentum is gathering around 2021 being a breakout year for EVs, however. Automakers are converting some of the industry's most iconic brands to EV, including the Mustang, Ford F-150 and Hummer. Tesla just reached its long-predicted half a million vehicles sold in 2020, a number long mocked and doubted by the auto industry. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, GM CEO Mary Barra will give the opening keynote address of CES and Chevy has already promised that new EV announcements are coming. Oh, and speaking of large gadgets, John Deere's AI and robotics-powered tractor is one of this year's CES Innovation Award winners.

We'll be talking about all of this at our panel, The Great Commute Reboot.

CES 2021: 'Solar EV for the masses' | Gadget

edited by kcontents

5. Samsung will loom larger than ever

In a normal year, Samsung is always the 800-pound gorilla of CES, with the largest booth on the show floor, the flashiest press event and a flood of new announcements across TVs, audio, computers, home appliances and quirky attention-getters like last year's Neon AI chatbots. Samsung will continue to make the usual waves this year, but it has added more fuel to the fire by holding a Samsung Unpacked event -- ostensibly for its next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S21 -- on the same day that the virtual CES show floor opens on Thursday, January 14. Talk about trying to steal the show! In the past, Samsung has stolen thunder from its rivals by timing this event near Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (or a week or two before). But with MWC postponed to the middle of the year, Samsung is essentially co-locating its biggest mobile event of the year to CES for 2021.

6. 5G will be a big deal, again

From Roger Cheng: I know it feels like we say this every year, but a lot of things are in place to really allow 5G to dominate the conversation at CES, especially since this show is going more virtual and relying more on panels and discussions than whiz-bang demos of gadgets. All three US carriers now have nationwide 5G coverage. Every phone-maker -- including and especially Apple -- is on board. Beyond the Samsung announcement, you likely won't see that many 5G devices at the show. The discussion will largely revolve around the longer-term applications of 5G, like how we tap into 5G to solve some of the problems exposed by the coronavirus. The discussion will involve using 5G to close the digital divide, as well as to improve the experiences around telemedicine and remote learning and working. 

Read more5G talk will dominate virtual CES 2021

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CES는 전기차쇼...더 빠르고 힘센 모델들 선보인다

11일부터 14일 온라인 개최

    정보기술(IT) 관련 산업 세계 최대 박람회 중 하나인 미국 국제가전전시회(CES)가 이달 11일부터 14일 열린다. 매년 연초 미국 라스베이거스에서 화려하게 열리던 행사는 올해는 신종 코로나바이러스 감염증(COVID-19·코로나19)으로 전면 온라인으로 개최된다. CES에서는 코로나19와 관련한 기술 외에도 전기차가 주목받고 5세대(5G) 이동통신 기술에 대한 논의도 본격화할 전망이다. 참여기업이 줄어들며 한국 기업이 상대적으로 주목받으리란 분석도 나온다.


세계가전전시회 제공

미국 기술매체 씨넷은 “CES 2021는 전기차부터 5G, 투명 디스플레이까지 기술 산업의 다음 단계를 선보이게 될 것”이라며 올해 CES에서 기대해야 할 기술들을 꼽았다.

가장 큰 관심은 코로나19와 관련한 기술이다. 씨넷은 “기업들이 사람들이 코로나19 공포와 봉쇄 조치, 재택근무 및 학습에 대처할 수 있는 많은 기술을 선보일 것”이라고 분석했다. 헬스케어와 스마트홈 분야에서는 비접촉 키오스크, 체온 감지기, 첨단 마스크 기술, 공기청정기, 핸즈프리 기기 등 코로나19 방역을 돕는 기술들이 소개될 전망이다. 미국 스타트업 ‘스테리 라이트’는 펜을 손대지 않고 소독하는 장치를 선보일 예정이다.

전기차가 CES에서 중심에 서리란 분석도 내놨다. 씨넷은 “포드의 스포츠카 머스탱, 픽업트럭 F-150, 제너럴모터스의 픽업트럭 허머 등 기존 승용차와 다른 종류의 제품들도 전기차로 전환되고 있다”며 올해는 전기차의 해가 될 가능성이 크다고 소개했다. 메리 배라 제너럴모터스 최고경영자(CEO)는 이달 12일 기조연설에서 새 전기차를 공개하기로 했다. 미국 최대 중장비 및 농기계 회사인 디어앤컴퍼니는 인공지능(AI)으로 구동되는 트랙터를 선보인다.

Mando SbW (Steer by Wire) System Model Cut (Same as real product) – Upper (SFA : Steering Feedback Actuator), Lower (RWA : Road Wheel Actuator)


도입 속도가 지지부진한 5G 기술에 대한 논쟁도 이어질 것으로 전망했다. 씨넷은 “미국 3개 통신 사업자가 이제 미국 전역에 5G 서비스를 제공하고 애플과 삼성 등 모든 제조업체가 5G 스마트폰을 공개했다”면서도 “삼성 외에는 그다지 많은 5G 장치를 보지 못할 것”이라고 소개했다. 대신 이번 CES에서는 코로나19에서 발생한 디지털 격차, 원격 학습 문제 등을 5G로 해소하는 응용 방안이 주로 소개될 것이라는 기대다.

CES가 온라인으로 전환하며 규모는 축소됐으나 더 명확한 트렌드를 볼 수 있으리란 전망도 내놨다.  지난해 CES에는 약 4400개 기업이 참여했지만 올해 참여기업은 1951개로 절반 이하로 줄었다. 미국에서 567개 기업이 참여하고 한국이 340개 기업으로 다음으로 많다. 씨넷은 삼성은 갤럭시 S21 공개 행사로, LG는 40% 투명 유기발광다이오드(OLED) 제품으로 주목받을 것으로 전망했다.

조승한 기자 shinjsh@donga.com 동아사이언스