By Holland Cooke
LAS VEGAS — Security guys are walking COVID-sniffing dogs around CES venues. Just to get sniffed, we had to enter vaccination dates – and vaccine lot numbers – into that Clear security app you see used at airports. Upon arrival here, we’re presented with self-test kits.
Other big international conventions are watching this bellwether. The World Economic Forum in Switzerland was recently postponed as Omicron numbers mushroom.
Just last week, CES announced that the show would wrap a day early, on Thursday, “as an additional safety measure.” Amazon, Google, Intel, Meta, and Microsoft are among companies that have dropped-out or gone-virtual this year. By my eye attendance is less than half of 2020’s 170,000-some; and your undaunted reporter is among longtime attendees who appreciate the elbow room this year, and there’s lots to see (if not touch).
Technology on Wheels
When General Motors CEO Mary Barra keynoted here several years ago she introduced the trailblazing 2017 Chevy Bolt. This year she unveils the Chevy Silverado EV; and Ford’s electric F-150 Lightning pickup is among some 30 new electric vehicles rolling out this year.
While COVID-cautious automakers have scaled-back their physical presence here, we will get a peek at the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX concept car; and there are plenty of electric bicycles and scooters too. The EV market is forecast to hit just under at trillion dollars (not a misprint) by 2030.
“Nothing Runs Like a Deere. Autonomously.”
With the Help Wanted sign EVERYWHERE, and weather getting less predictable, farmers are leveraging automation to produce enough food to feed a growing world population. And we’re seeing other robots that automate food preparation. If you worked at McDonalds as a teen, you’ll applaud machines dunking French fries and handling other repetitive tasks; though kiosks are replacing young order-takers.
Robots are everywhere here, as, increasingly, they are in everyday life. Few we’re seeing at CES look humanoid, and those that do are creepy good at it.
5G Coverage and Controversy
School systems are reverting to distance learning as Omicron shatters infection records. Many employees are now permanent work-at-homes. And rural America and communities of color remain disproportionally disadvantaged by the digital divide. So there’s an urgency to building-out 5G coverage. Verizon and T-Mobile are already delivering in a growing number of areas; and the trillion-dollar-plus Infrastructure and Jobs Act passed in November includes $65 billion for affordable broadband.
But there’s concern that some 5G signals could interfere with aircraft instruments. The FAA and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have asked AT&T and Verizon to tap-the-brakes on their 5G rollout, a request both companies have rejected. So we’re eager to hear what Buttigieg has to say when he speaks here (virtually) this week.
I’m reporting here all week for TALKERS magazine and you may help yourself to my daily radio reports at HollandCooke.com
Holland Cooke is author of the E-book “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download at HollandCooke.com; and “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available exclusively from Talkers books. HC is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke