What CES 2021 tells us about life in the near future

The products showcased at this year’s event respond to our current reality and set the stage for a future in which even more happens at home.

By Jared Lindzon — January 13, 2021

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is happening without the usual throngs of visitors, snaking taxi lines, crowded Las Vegas convention center, or over-the-top trade show booths. But, the all-virtual event that kicked off this week is still delivering what tech enthusiasts, media, retailers, and industry analysts anticipate every year: a glimpse at the products that will soon populate our lives.  

What’s clear at least for the near future, is that our days will continue to be centered within our homes, with an emphasis on keeping ourselves safe and healthy, and making our spaces more comfortable and convenient places to do our jobs, go to school, and unleash our creativity. 

From face masks with built-in earbuds and microphones to robots that can offer emotional support, CES 2021 paints a picture of a future influenced by the COVID-19 experience, but also leaping forward from it, with innovations designed to enhance health, safety, security, productivity, and comfort in our everyday lives.

“For us it’s really the ‘consumer experience show,’” says HP President and Chief Executive Officer Enrique Lores.

Based on what we’ve seen at CES so far, here are five predictions for how today’s innovations will transform tomorrow’s world.

HP presents the Elite Dragonfly at CES 2021 for WFH micromobility.

Courtesy of HP

The HP Elite Dragonfly G2 is outfitted with features that enable "micromobility," where consumers can work from wherever they need to within their homes.

Micromobility is the new business travel

This past year offered proof that work can happen anytime, anywhere, and if necessary, in any room of the home — a concept HP calls “micromobility.”  Instead of devices designed for the home or the office, consumers need devices that can make any part of their home an office when they need it to be. “Whether it’s for better Wi-Fi access, or your kids are back home and you need peace and quiet, or you just need to move around for wellness purposes — there are a new set of requirements that we need to address,” says Andy Rhodes, general manager and global head of commercial systems at HP. 

“For us it’s really the ‘consumer experience show.’”

—Enrique Lores, President & Chief Executive Officer, HP

At CES, HP showcased the new Elite Dragonfly and Dragonfly Max laptops, built with micromobility in mind, and featuring a five-megapixel IR camera and four wide-array microphones for better video conferencing, as well as a lighter design and 5G capabilities for a truly mobile experience. “While the PC is more essential than ever, what’s most important of all is people,” says Alex Cho, president of Personal Systems at HP. “We are looking beyond the device people use to what will improve their experience.”

Equipment for healthcare at home is predicted to rise according to CES 2021.

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The use of health monitoring devices at home is expected to grow as patients become more comfortable with telemedicine options.

Healthcare moves into the home

After a year largely defined by a public health crisis, innovations in the consumer healthcare space are increasingly focused on putting a range of health monitoring activities in consumers’ hands. The pandemic has nudged forward an already-emerging trend toward telemedicine, and with devices like the ones at CES, patients’ data can be sent to healthcare professionals without ever them stepping foot inside a doctor’s office. For example, one device continuously monitors symptoms of COVID-19, while other healthcare services that previously required a doctor’s visit, including blood tests, eye tests, dermatological monitoring, and even fertility tests, can now be done at home. There are also a number of new home cardiovascular monitoring solutions coming to the market, including a heart rate-monitoring patch and a radar system that autonomously monitors heart and respiratory health

Smart home gadgets are experiencing market growth with the pandemic, according to CES 2021

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As consumers continue to stay at home, smart technologies help make their daily lives more convenient.

Smart homes get smarter and safer

Smart home technologies were once seen as luxury purchases, but today two-thirds of American households contain at least one smart device. One key area of innovation in smart home tech is in the home security space. New smart home security devices unveiled at CES this year include an AI-enabled battery powered camera; smart locks with microphones and video livestreaming capabilities; voice-enabled security hubs that can control smart lights, locks, thermostats, and other devices; and portable emergency survival devices that can charge your other critical gadgets, deliver local weather and civil disturbance alerts, sound an alarm, and more. Exhibitors also showcased a number of solutions designed to protect users from microscopic intruders, with innovations like a smartphone-connected mold risk indicator, an air quality monitor with a virus risk indicator, and a doorbell that can measure the visitor’s temperature.

HP presents HP ENVY 14 at CES 2021 for creators and influencers to make high-quality content.

Courtesy of HP

The HP ENVY 14 was engineered to provide advanced tools and workflows for content creators.

Everyday creators up their game with pro-level tools

Home-based creators and aspiring influencers will take their content to the next level, thanks to a range of new tools that make high-quality production accessible to more people. Among the products unveiled at CES this week include software designed to capture real-time videos in 3D hologram, a panoramic camera, an all-in-one home podcast studio, and a mobile creative studio, the HP ENVY 14, with high-powered processing and vivid color for pro-level photo and video editing. The new HP Envy laptop was designed with creators in mind, and features a wide 16:10 touch display, fast rendering, seamless playback, AI-powered noise removal software, and a built-in selfie light for video calls (instead of having a separate ring light). 

CES 2021 announced products centered around sustainability and self-reliance for the next crisis.

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Many of the products announced at CES 2021 were a reflection of consumers' values, with a focus on sustainability or emergency preparedness.

Resilience and sustainability intersect

Many of the innovations unveiled at CES 2021 were products that showcased self-reliance, sustainability, and disaster-preparedness. By reducing our reliance on centralized services like power grids and water filtration systems, we will be better prepared for the next crisis and also more sustainable. This was evident in products like a bicycle-powered device that can generate and store electricity; a decentralized water recycling system that can reduce a building or home’s reliance on municipal water filtration systems along with its carbon footprint; solar cells that can harvest ambient indoor light; and even a portable, solar powered water filtration system that offers clean drinking water entirely off the grid. 

In these examples and others, this year’s all-virtual CES highlights the fact that the most successful tech innovations not only respond to consumers’ needs now, but also anticipate how we’ll want to live and work in the future. 

CES continues through January 14.


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