Under normal circumstances this would have been one of the drudging weeks in the tech calendar.
Thousands of new products would have been unveiled; chief executives and celebrities would have vied for attention; and robots would have probably misfunctioned on stage.
But the coronavirus meant the giant CES tech expo could not be held in Las Vegas, and it has alternatively dislocated later than normal to an online-only event, beginning on Monday.
There will still be lots of new devices. New kinds of TVs, vacuum cleaners that throw away their own waste, and computer monitors specifically designed for Microsoft Teams work chats, are among products to have been teased in advance.
But the shift to a virtual event means much of the buzz will inevitably be lost.
Seeing products in real life and networking are without a doubt the two biggest reasons to attend CES and it will be very hard to recapitulate these two digitally.Carolina Milanesi, an industry analyst.
One of the aspects of the show floor I always appreciated was walking around to find hidden gems, companies I never heard of that had great products. This is impossible to do scrolling down a brief list.
One consequence is that there will be a bigger focus on the stage presentations and panels.
In 2020, a session with Ivanka Trump drew the most titles- not least because event organiser Gary Shapiro had once penned a blog warning the Republicans of President Trump’s “racism and inanity”
This time around, the incoming Biden management will be chewed over at length.
In addition, Microsoft’s president Brad Smith is giving his company’s first essence address at CES in nearly a decade, and General Motors’ chief Mary Barra is set to reveal more about its driverless car plans.
Two years ago, in a BBC interview, Mr Shapiro floated the idea of a disease one day making it impossible for participants to meet in person.
He described it as being a “dystopian” idea.
He explained how – with the pandemic – CES has been forced to change, and he weighed what the long-term outcomes for the consumer gadget show might be.
The interview below has been edited for terseness and clarity. It took place shortly before rioters stormed Congress.
We’ve clearly had to adapt, but it’s given us an opportunity to reimagine CES. It’s allowed us to shift the date a week later into the year to allow a little more planning and facility. We haven’t been able to do that in Las Vegas for several years. And it’s allowed us to extend the life of the show as we’re keeping everything online for 30 days, so people can discover exhibits, listen to conferences and watch them at their own pace. We have 1,800 exhibits or so right now to visit.
What we can’t remake is the beauty and magic of Las Vegas and the five-senses experience. It’s sad. But this is an chance. We’re all flexible. We’re humans. We’ll get through it. And we’ll be more immeasurable for it.
What will be the standout products and themes?What do you think?
There’s a enormous amount on 5G connectivity. Digital health is also very big.