Tech Savvy: CES unveils tech trends to watch

The annual CES consumer technology show may provide a glimpse at the not so distant future from automation, innovation and tech services.

A vendor at Nanoleaf
A vendor at Nanoleaf talks to CES show participants at the CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas in 2023. Nanoleaf provides modular lighting panels, smart light bars, bulbs and smart light switches.
Contributed / Consumer Technology Association

The U.S. has a labor shortage.

Technology has an answer.

That was part of the message delivered by Steve Koenig, Consumer Technology Association vice president of market research, at the recent CES consumer technology show in Las Vegas. The CES show is renowned for highlighting the latest in technology from industry giants, major retailers and entrepreneurial startups.

In his keynote address, Koenig noted there are bright sides, but supply chains, a topic that went from nowhere to an every day discussion, remain vulnerable. Chip inventories are rising and lead times are falling, which should also help in terms of supplies for a host of products, including vehicles. He said the downside risk in terms of chip inventories comes with oversupply, as the latest tech may be deferred until demand works its way through the supply. That remains to be seen, he said.

But one thing is clear for the near future and likely well beyond — the national labor shortage. Koenig said the U.S. is short 10 million workers.


“I think that 20 years ago, technology was the 'nice to have' when it comes to business or the commercial enterprise. Today, I think humans are the 'nice to have.' … The simple truth is we can’t hire enough workers certainly if we are talking about skilled labor and knowledge workers,” Koenig said.

There have been recent tech layoffs, but across the global economy, he said, businesses are struggling to find workers.

Steve Koenig speaks on stage
Steve Koenig, Consumer Technology Association vice president, research, at the recent CES consumer technology show in January of 2023 in Las Vegas.
Contributed / Consumer Technology Association

As for one of the other current challenges, raising interest rates is a blunt instrument to temper inflation, Koenig said.

“The other way is boosting productivity,” Koenig said, referring to British economist Christopher Freeman, who said, “innovation accelerates and bunches up during economic downturns only to be unleashed as the economy begins to recover, ushering in powerful new ways of technological change.”

This means new services and new products for consumers, Koenig said. He pointed to the experience with the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009 as consumer technology innovation brought mobile broadband. In 2010, about 30% of U.S. households had a smartphone. This time with predictions of a recession in 2023, Koenig said he believes 5G, for the fifth wireless generation, will be key with innovation based on the network providing faster mobile broadband both for consumers and the commercial industrial Internet of Things — technology that connects and exchanges data over the internet.

That will unlock so much innovation across this next decade, Koenig said.

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He expects phases with a digital transformation — born from needs during the pandemic such as businesses pivoting to what they can do online.

“Once again, because of 5G, we’re entering into a new season or a new phase of automation and virtualization,” Koenig said, noting a future of smart factories and hospitals, automated facilities and automated farms.


Cybersecurity, cloud, artificial intelligence and robotics are all part of it and underpins the effort and the global economy, Koenig said. He included benefits of speed and increased productivity, improving worker safety and optimizing space.

“The metaverse is closer than you think,” he said, noting any dialogue on the topic is also going to be met with skepticism. “Metaverse is still a speculative term but make no mistake this is a real trend just as the internet was a real trend in the early 1990s, even though a lot of us didn’t know what it was. … That's exactly the same dynamic that is manifesting around metaverse right now.”

Koenig said he thinks the term metaverse conjured up images of hyper immersive and shared experiences — like those visualized in the movie “Ready Player One.”

People present on stage with a large background showing a person using virtual reality goggles.
People from Bosch present virtual reality therapy during at talk at the 2023 CES consumer technology show in January in Las Vegas.
Contributed / Consumer Technology Association

For Koenig, metaverse is really the next generation of the internet, an elevated online experience with an elevated sense of immersion. So what does that mean for the consumer? Examples include an online shopping experience where a consumer actually pushes the cart and pulls items from the familiar store shelves into their shopping cart. Koenig pointed to a service provider, Touchcast, that has a vituralized 3D retail space but also has a human.

“That’s refreshing,” Koenig said. “That’s an elevated sense of immersion and certainly leveled up from online shopping today.”

As an example, Koenig said shopping for a computer or new sneakers could include looking at the product in detail with cutouts of how the shoe is made all from home while also talking to a person. For the sales representative, it’s akin to being in something most people are very familiar with these days — a virtual meeting, he said.

For innovation in immersion, Koenig pointed to OVR Technology with digital scent with therapeutic applications. Perhaps imagine walking in a sunny field of green plants on a mid-winter day through the power of immersion and the benefit of wearing a virtual reality headset.


More electric vehicles with advancements in battery design and charging systems are predicted. And there are advancements in autonomy. Koenig pointed to self-driving systems like trucks. He noted the labor shortage isn’t just a U.S. issue, it’s global. Here at home, he said the American Trucking Association reported by the year 2030, there will be a shortage of 160,000 truck drivers.


“How are we going to close that gap? Technology has the answer,” he said of self-driving trucks. “Humans are the nice to have. Technology is the answer.”

Koenig also pointed to the changing vehicle interior. The old way to order a latte from Starbucks was to use the app, he said. The new way will be using voice control while a person is driving to place the order.

Koenig also broached the idea of the vehicle becoming more subscription driven for services, even the AM/FM radio in the dash requiring a subscription in the future as companies look at capitalizing on recurring revenue. Koenig said he doesn’t know how that will play out but he expects more conversation about features as a service, perhaps a monthly fee, in the future.

Vendors talk to show participants
Vendors talk to participants at the 2023 CES show in January in Las Vegas.
Contributed / Consumer Technology Association<br/>


Virtual opportunities with telehealth exploded during the pandemic. Now, Koenig said digital therapeutics and improved remote health monitoring, even connected fitness, provide medical providers not only with conversation but actual health data.

Examples included remote patient monitoring, pain management devices and SK Zero glasses that can predict an epileptic seizure.

Other pieces of technology may help improve mental health. Imagine being bedridden but able to put on a virtual reality headset and experiencing walking across a beach.


ACWA Robotics has a robot that swims inside water pipes to look for leaks. Koenig said globally about 30 billion cubic meters of clean water are lost due to leaks each year.


“That’s a lot of clean water. We can do better,” Koenig said.

Jackery has created a personal power windmill as an alternative source of power, although if everyone at the beach showed up with one, the visuals could be a little overwhelming. Ag tech includes farming robots, drones and soil sensors, intelligent silos, and connected farmers. John Deere had a fully autonomous tractor at the CES show and was the 2023 Best of Innovation winner in robotics.

A packed crowd of people fill the wide hallway at the CES show.
Packed with people, the 2023 CES show in January in Las Vegas highlights trends in technology, new products, entrepreneurs and offers a glimpse at the future.
Contributed / Consumer Technology Association


The CES show also provided data on gaming from its 2022 Future of Gaming Study. With 164 million self-described gamers, between the ages of 13-64, in the 2022 U.S. market. Gamers, Koenig noted, represent about three-quarters of the population for that age group.

Of those:

  • 40.9 million, or 25%, were hardcore gamers.
  • 55.6 million, or 34%, were considered core gamers. 
  • 67.3 million, or 41%, were casual gamers. 

By gaming platform,

  • 74.6 million, or 45%, were using a mobile device, 
  • 29.4 million, or 18%, used a PC,
  • 60.7 million, or 37% used a console device. 

Another surprisingly big number, Koenig said, was how much time people spend playing games. In 2019, the Consumer Technology Association’s research found the average U.S. gamer spent 16 hours a week playing games. Today, the research shows it’s 24 hours a week spent gaming.
Koenig said people seek out gaming for a number of reasons — entertainment, escapism, competition, community, connection and socialization.

When we think about the metaverse that will only grow and increase, he said.


A crowd of people look at the large LG exhibit.
People check out the LG exhibit in January at the 2023 CES show in Las Vegas.
Contributed / Consumer Technology Association

Consumer connections

In looking at services and consumer habits, Koenig also looked at Consumer Technology Association research numbers on pre-pandemic trends versus now.

Grocery delivery topped the charts with more consumers, 59% more, utilizing that service. Other chart-toppers, none too surprising anecdotally, included video streaming, music streaming, food delivery, health-wellness-fitness and e-commerce.

“And in fact, a lot of consumers adopted a whole bunch of new services during the season of the pandemic, like ordering groceries online and the key takeaway is that consumers — not just in the U.S. but around the world — are sticking with those. So we’ve seen really a transmutation, a modulation, of consumer behavior really emphasizing services.”

In an updated forecast, the Consumer Technology Association reported in the U.S. 31 cents of every tech dollar spent is attributable to spending on services.

“That’s a big percentage and it’s only going to grow and increase because I think more and more it’s more about services and the things that we’re doing with tech and less about the hardware itself,” Koenig said.

The forecast projects the 2023 total U.S. Consumer technology retail revenues at $485 billion. The Consumer Technology Association stated the new data puts revenues slightly above pre-pandemic levels and follows a surge in consumer technology spending that peaked at a record-breaking $512 billion in 2021.

Keys from the report

  • Technology Services: Consumer spending on technology services including gaming, video, audio and apps will grow for the fifth straight year, generating $151 billion in consumer spending. The video streaming market is especially competitive with major brands vying for consumer attention.  
  • Automotive Technology: Factory-installed automotive technology revenues are projected to rise 4% to $15.5 billion in 2023. Advances in battery technology have allowed producers of electric vehicles to offer increasingly consumer-friendly options, with companies including Panasonic, LG and other companies building infrastructure to support more battery production. 
  • Health and Fitness Technology: Health and fitness services including fitness subscription services and digital therapeutics are projected to rise 9% to $928 million in 2023. Thanks to a landmark 2022 ruling from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), over-the-counter hearing aids will be sold in stores for the first full year — generating $891 million in revenue in 2023.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or . Follow on Twitter at .

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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