CES, the most influential tech event in the world, was back with a bang in Las Vegas between January 4 and 8, 2023. With over 3,200 exhibitors, the event saw over 115,000 attendees, which was less than pre-COVID times but still a good turnout. It was great to be back attending an in-person event after three years to experience a wide range of innovations.
From wireless TVs to ‘true’ wireless charging solutions, color-changing cars to fridge doors, and robots and drones to concept flying cars, there were a lot of overwhelming products that were showcased at CES 2023.
Though, the key theme was Cars, Electrification, and Sustainability (or CES as we would define this year’s event).
Counterpoint Research analysts were on the ground covering the event. Here is a quick recap of some of the interesting tech we came across at the show.
Futuristic, high-tech electric cars, pickup trucks, and infotainment are in focus
Sony and Honda Mobility’s first EV, a futuristic-looking Afeela
Sony and Honda Mobility announced their partnership in 2022 to challenge Tesla in the EV market. At CES 2023, the companies showcased their prototype, Afeela, designed for urban transport. Featuring a sleek and modern design, it includes advanced technologies such as an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), all-wheel drive (AWD), a high-capacity battery, and Level 3 autonomous driving features.
The electric vehicle will be embedded with over 40 sensors including cameras, LiDAR, radars, and ultrasonic sensors. It will be made in the US, pre-orders will begin in H2 2025, and shipping is expected to start in 2026.
BMW i Vision Dee can change colors like a chameleon
Last year, at CES 2022, BMW showcased a color-changing car, though limited to just black and white shades. Now, a year later, the new and improved concept car, i Vision Dee, comes with more tricks up its sleeve. To begin with, the “Dee” here stands for Digital Emotional Experience, one where users can customize the car’s exterior color to express their style. There are 240 e-Ink segments that can display 32 different color shades.
BMW has also re-imagined the head-up display (HUD). Drivers can select driving-related information, or can also have a virtual experience with a black-out window while enjoying an autonomous driving experience. BMW said that some of this tech will make its way into production in 2025 in the next-gen platform.
Qualcomm showcases its advanced in-car tech
Qualcomm unveiled its Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC which brings low-power, advanced computing capabilities, including digital cockpit, ADAS, and AD (autonomous driving). Going beyond in-car infotainment, it can unlock in-vehicle experiences, such as the partnership with SalesForce, to offer a one-click over-the-air (OTA) upgrade for new features, buying tickets for a show, parking tickets, or even reserving a table at a restaurant on the go.
The digital cockpit part of the SoC will be able to control a range of features like voice assistant, premium audio, and rear-seat infotainment displays. The chipset is scheduled to go into mass production in early 2024, and Qualcomm is working to make it easier for Tier-1 automakers to embrace the platform.
Stellantis debuts futuristic Peugeot Inception & Ram 1500 EV Truck
Peugeot, which is a part of Stellantis, previewed a futuristic concept EV sedan, called Inception. The all-electric concept car can go 500 miles or 800 km on a single charge. It features an innovative Hypersquare control system that is inspired by video games, replacing the traditional steering wheel with an all-digital electric control. The concept EV will also feature Level 4 autonomous driving with a next-gen i-Cockpit.
Electric pickup trucks are becoming a hot trend in the auto industry and Ram, a sub-brand of automaker Stellantis, unveiled its futuristic-looking Ram 1500 Revolution BEV concept at CES 2023. It comes with all the bells and whistles to outdo itself, loaded with new-age tech features such as an AR heads-up display, an AI virtual assistant, and also autonomous driving capabilities. It features a “shadow mode” which follows the driver as she walks ahead of the vehicle. What’s more, it also features Ram Charger, an autonomous charging robot that can locate the truck and automatically align and position itself to start the charging.
The RAM 1500 Revolution also features a longer cabin with third-row jump seats and even a movie projector. While Ram doesn’t have any EVs to its belt yet, the company says the new BEV truck will be a leader with its range, towing, and payload. Ram also claims that around 10 minutes of charging using 800V DC fast charging up to 350 kW can offer 100 miles of range. The production model of Ram 1500 is expected to be available in the market in 2024.
Samsung Ready Tune enhances the audio experience with software tuning
At CES 2023, Samsung, together with its subsidiary Harman, demoed Ready Tune, a new car audio technology that can intelligently adjust sound settings to offer an immersive and premium audio experience. There are three modes users can choose from to experience differentiated sound based on the content and their listening preferences.
First up, there is Live Mode which replicates the acoustics you would experience in the live stadium. Then there is Club Mode which enhances the audio to offer crisp and punchy bass. Lastly, there is Talk Mode that enhances the spoken content, making it ideal when listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and more.
Microsoft and GM show off in-cockpit gaming experiences
More and more EVs are getting adopted by consumers, but the battery charging scenario still remains a challenge. So, when you are on a road trip and need to charge the battery, what do you do in the downtime? Well, Microsoft and GM demoed one of the things you could enjoy while the car’s battery is charging.
The companies demonstrated a new video game called Dash Runner to showcase how users can make the most of the time when the EV is charging. Tesla already has a mode where you can play games, so this isn’t exactly new. But it was fun playing the game with immersive audio from the in-car speakers. An added touch was the good haptics on the steering wheel and the seat too. But it is not just gaming, users can also stream movies and TV shows and enjoy a rich audio experience.
Electrification of everything from excavators to shuttles and even boats
Moving from cars to electrification, big names like John Deere, ZF Group, Hyundai Mobis and Brunswick, all showcased their EVs.
Brunswick electric boat with an auto-docking made waves at CES 2023
Brunswick, the world’s largest boat and engine builder, unveiled its electric boat called Veer X13. It is a 13-foot fishing boat powered by a rechargeable battery motor. The company said it will be bringing more such boats to the market. They also showcased another solution, an on-boat electric generator called Mastervolt, which can power the TVs, radio, and lights on boats, something that is generally powered by gas engines.
But the coolest thing Brunswick had at the demo zone was a simulator showcasing autonomous features for the Sea Ray boat. It is trying to create future boats with self-docking abilities and intelligent sensor-based solutions for maneuvering, object detection, and avoidance. Besides the electrification of boats, it was interesting to see how Brunswick is combining internet connectivity and AI technologies. The demo showed how a boat when reaching the peer/port, can dock itself. If there is a boat approaching, it can stop in the middle of the process, and then continue once it passes.
John Deere announces electric excavator and new planting technology
Moving over from autonomous and electric boats, John Deere revealed ExactShot planting technology which uses robotics and sensors to place starter fertilizer precisely onto seeds when they are planted in the soil, rather than applying a continuous flow of fertilizer to the entire row of seeds. It will help farmers be economically and environmentally sustainable by reducing the amount of starter fertilizer by more than 60%.
John Deere also announced an electric excavator which is aimed at reducing emissions, noise on site, and daily operating costs, all without sacrificing performance and power.
Hyundai Mobis has a futuristic vision for autonomous mobility
Auto component maker Hyundai Mobis showed off its future mobility technology by presenting the M Vision TO purpose-built concept autonomous shuttle for public transport. The self-driving electric vehicle is equipped with four pillars having radars, sensors, and cameras. Packing more tech, it will also have mixed reality (MR) displays, e-corner modules and LiDARs integrated into the pillars.
The concept shuttle could be ideal for recreational purposes at theme and amusement parks, within big companies, university campuses, and more. The notable thing about the e-corner modules is that it combines an electric motor for steering and braking. It also features a crab walk mode where wheels can turn up to 90 degrees for parking. The company also showcased the M Vision HI concept which builds on the same idea but has a more boxy design. Its windows double as a multipurpose display with multiple use cases – from shopping online or watching movies.
ZF Group offers a sneak peek at futuristic autonomous shuttles
ZF Group is partnering with shuttle operator Beep to bring Level-4 autonomous shuttle that can self-drive without human intervention. With these electric-powered, autonomous shuttles, the companies aim to reduce traffic-related emissions while also tackling the driver shortage for the local public.
There will be two different types of shuttles, one of which will be geared towards use in dedicated lanes, whereas the other will be primarily aimed at use in urban areas with mixed traffic. The shuttles will come with all the sophisticated sensor technology including radar, LiDARs, and cameras.
These announcements clearly showcase the industry’s ambition to automate every form of mobility. And while these are just concepts for now, it will take a few years to turn this vision into reality.
Focus on sustainability for a cleaner, greener tomorrow
We saw the electrification of cars, boats, tractors, scooters, bikes, and more, all focusing on a common goal – sustainability – and reducing carbon emissions. But it’s not just electric vehicles, there are many other industries where sustainability will play a crucial role. Samsung showcased its vision of net-zero homes, one where SmartThings with AI can optimize energy consumption at home by controlling all the appliances efficiently.
One other thing that caught our attention at CES 2023 was one where companies showcased their long-range wireless charging solutions. Besides cutting the chord, sustainability could be one of the key benefits of this technology as it can save the usage of millions of batteries on devices that use supercapacitors or the ones that don’t need frequent replacement of batteries. The wireless charging solutions are ideal for IoT devices such as door locks, electric toothbrushes, bulbs, game controllers, and more. B2B devices with use cases include malls, stores, and restaurants – in display units where they can show product prices, food menus, ads, and more. These display units can have a flat Li-Ion battery which can last for about six years or more.
A company called Wi-Charge showcased its infrared-based wireless charging solution. It features a transmitter device and a receiver that can charge devices from a field of view of 45 degrees, and an operating range of 10 meters.
Ossia was another company that uses a physics-based approach. The solution operates on 5.8GHz RF frequency and works in a range of 10 meters. It uses a transmitter box (as big as a PlayStation console) and is good enough to power IoT devices in a room, electric toothbrushes, and more. It could also be ideal for other low-power devices like smoke detectors, light bulbs, and more.
There was one other company, PowerCast, which already has a working solution powering the Samsung TV remote. It uses a supercapacitor to hold the power, and charges via solar or by any 2.4GHz router when kept in proximity. Home security and even temperature humidity controllers can be operated from up to 120ft without having any battery in them, which is an interesting use case.
Overall, CES 2023 was a great show offering a glimpse of an autonomous, electric and sustainable future. It was good to experience these new, futuristic technologies, learn where the industry is headed, and how OEMs are making an effort for a better tomorrow.