The Consumer Electronics Show is taking place in Las Vegas this week. Buzz Knight will be reporting from the massive event for Radio Ink. He starts off our coverage with his annual interview with Gary Shapiro, the CEO of CTATech which produces the event.

Buzz Knight: How big is CES? Can you give us a few numbers, including CTA employees, attendees, and exhibitors?
Gary Shapiro: We’re excited about how CES 2020 is shaping up – we’re expecting over 170,000 attendees, including 75,000 senior executives, and at least 60,000 attendees from outside the U.S. There will be over 4,500 exhibiting companies, over 1,200 Eureka Park startups, more than 300 conference sessions, and more than 1,100 speakers.

I’m also proud of the behind-the-scenes work by our 200 Consumer Technology Association staff. And our Share the Love program allows staff to bring a loved one or family member to the show to help with everything from registration to onsite assistance.

Buzz Knight: In the last couple years, we’ve seen both Amazon and Google have an increasingly strong presence at CES, especially with smart speakers. Will they both be back and can you tell us anything about their focus?
Gary Shapiro: At CES 2019, the race among market leaders such as Amazon and Google played out. These companies are continuing to develop entire ecosystems for their voice-activated digital assistants, and both Amazon and Google will be back this year. Google has exhibit space in Central Plaza, and Amazon has a booth on the show floor in the North Hall of the LVCC (Alexa Auto) and a booth in the Drones Marketplace.

Both will be key exhibitors in the Voice/Smart Assistants product category and at C Space, the home of the marketing, content, and entertainment community at CES. Amazon will participate in the session “The Future of TV: From Primetime to Multi-Platform Package.” Google will provide a key speaker for “Diversity & Inclusion: Innovation for All,” a new conference program this year, and the company will be a key exhibitor in Quantum Computing.

Buzz Knight: Beside the incredible displays at the LVCC, CES has a strong presence at several other sites. Do you have a “must visit” venue or area you can recommend to attendees?
Gary Shapiro: At CES 2020, attendees will experience the latest innovations across industries. eSports is a growing area at CES this year, as gaming becomes a more real-time and immersive experience. The new eSports/Gaming conference program will explore the landscape of sports innovation and the emerging trends in eSports, live media, virtual advertising, smart venues, player analytics, and quantified revenue.

Sports and gaming tech are now united at the Aria with C Space, an immersive experience where many of the Fortune 100 companies are represented, and you can learn how technology is changing the future of brands, marketing, and entertainment. The marriage of these two key communities creates a one-stop-shop that connects entertainment brands with sports leaders and icons.

Buzz Knight: How much regarding 5G has evolved and grown since last year’s show?
Gary Shapiro: In 2019, 5G moved from trials to commercialization, with commercial launches in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. By 2022, the majority (76%) of smartphones shipping in the U.S. will be 5G enabled. This year, 5G is capable of significantly greater data capacity for video and telepresence applications, significantly more connections at a time, and ultra-low latency. The U.S. is now in a global race for 5G leadership, and connectivity – delivering anytime/anywhere access and information – and it is one of the driving trends of our time.

CES is the hub for 5G, and the only global event that brings the full 5G and mobile connectivity ecosystem together. Through applications of 5G in industries such as entertainment, digital health and smart cities, carriers and mobile operators will show how 5G’s speed, reliability, and efficiency will drive innovation. Tiffany Moore, Senior Vice President of political and industry affairs at CTA, will speak about how “Tech is Ready for our 5G Future,” alongside executives from Samsung, U.S. Department of State, Verizon, and Doctor on Demand.

Buzz Knight: Many think of CES as gadget-focused. But the event is often more about larger trends. What are you anticipating at CES 2020?
Gary Shapiro: AI will be the star of the show at CES – it’s truly one of the key “ingredient technologies” over the next decade. The AI & Robotics category has 15% more exhibitors than CES 2019. AI solutions will impact a variety of marketplaces, including smart cities, sports tech, vehicle tech, digital health, robotics, and beyond.

“Tech for good” continues to be a major trend. New this year, CES and the World Bank will partner in a Global Tech Challenge calling for companies to present solutions focused on health, gender barriers, and technologies that enable communities to be more resilient. There will be a focus on smart cities and data-enabled decisions that solve public problems, like transportation, public safety, energy, and infrastructure.

Digital health is another growing trend. These new technologies are putting patient health in the hands of the patient or caregiver, enabling patients to better adhere to treatment protocols and providing doctors with more data on treatment effectiveness. Digital Health at CES includes a comprehensive exhibit space and dedicated conference programming at the Sands, and the audience will include medical professionals; digital health startups; large corporations in the health care, insurance, and pharmaceutical spaces; investors and health care analysts.

CES 2020 will also show how smarter and safer technologies are transforming the travel and tourism industries; now more than ever before, customers’ experience will be increasingly customized and efficient due to new innovations. Privacy is also a focus for this year’s CES, as privacy has emerged as a strategic imperative for all consumer businesses. Business, technology, and political leaders will discuss and debate how privacy will shape consumer markets for 2020 and beyond. Apple, Facebook, and the Federal Trade Commission will discuss the issue of consumer privacy on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

Buzz Knight: You’re a keen observer of the media and tech space. Any thoughts about how the radio broadcasting industry should be focused as it transitions to a digital future?
Gary Shapiro: I grew up listening to radio. My mother would listen to radio talk show programs whenever she had the chance, and she always told me, “If I learn one thing for each hour of listening, it is worth it.” Radio doesn’t just entertain, it also helps quench people’s thirst for knowledge.

Radio stations need to support a variety of listening mediums – such as voice assistants and smart speakers. Like retailers, radio stations need to go omnichannel. Streaming on the Internet is understood, but support for social media and podcasts are critical to maintain an audience and keep them tuned-in.

With the evolution of 5G, radio can reach untapped markets in rural areas, bringing new benefits and opportunities. The radio industry (like all industries) should also be focused on collaboration. In the ninja future, everything is interconnected: things, people, governments, financial networks, and cultures. A breakthrough technology or a piece of legislation that impacts one industry will inevitably impact others.

Reach Buzz Knight by e-mail at [email protected]

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