CES 2021 Switches To All-Digital Format Due To COVID-19

The legendary Vegas-based event will return to its physical format in 2022.

With COVID-19 continuing to maintain its stranglehold on the United States, the Consumer Technology Agency today announced that the 2021 Consumer Electronics Showcase will be switching to a digital format as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

Normally held in Las Vegas, Nevada, CES attracts a considerable amount of attendees and exhibitors each year, making it one of the largest and most influential annual tech conferences in the world. According to the CTA, CES 2020 drew in an incredible 171,268 attendees as well as 4,419 exhibitors, including high-profile companies such as Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony just to name a few.

Organizers stated earlier today that next year’s event will be held exclusively online as opposed to its regular space within the Las Vegas Convention Center. Despite the lack of a physical venue, CTA has confirmed plans for a variety of virtual panels, Q&As, product showcases, keynotes, and networking events; all of which will be conducted online.

“With the growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it is not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person,” said the CTA in an official statement.

Organizers state that the conference will return to its original physical format in 2022, barring any more global catastrophes…

“Consumers are not going to want to flock back to really crowded large-format events for quite some time,” said Julia Hartz, CEO and cofounder of Eventbrite, during a previous interview with Business Insider. “I would say that’s the furthest out that we would see in terms of consumer confidence.”

While CES is known for attracting a wide range of bleeding-edge hardware and software, immersive technology in particular has been on the rise over the past five years, with more VR and AR developers now occupying the show floor than ever before. In 2020 alone we saw the reveal of the world’s first ultra HD VR eyeglasses from Panasonic, a live demo of Samsung’s prototype AR headset, even a VR-enabled porta-potty designed by Charmin.

CES 2021 kicks-off next January. More details regarding scheduling will arrive at a later date.

Image Credit: Getty Images, Jefferson Graham

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Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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