It’s really difficult to think of CES as just an “electronics” show anymore. If organizers are steadfast in wanting to maintain the “CES” acronym, maybe they ought to consider a slight tweak to that middle letter and start calling this annual gathering in Las Vegas the Consumer Everything Show. Sure, the big tech brands are often still the biggest noise makers at CES – and technology is at the heart of most innovations on display there. But you’ve got car manufacturers next to makeup brands, major appliances sharing floor space with shoe designers, smart bird feeders alongside connected cutting boards.
Regardless, the timing of CES and the content that comes out of the show couldn’t be more perfect. Whether you’re there in-person or following from afar, the flashy gadgets and connected whatevers generate tons of excitement and thoughts of what’s possible at the start of each new year. And the 2024 edition of the show – which runs Jan. 9-12 – will be no different.
With all that in mind, there’ve already been a number of announcements ahead of CES 2024 that are noteworthy for independent retailers across every major category. Most involve some implementation of artificial intelligence (go figure). But, let’s dive into them.
If you like the latest and greatest panel technology, the Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center is where you want to be in early January. All the major brands bring their new lineups, and you’re sure to run into plenty of early concept display technologies that will likely end up in a retail showroom in the not-so-distant future. Just think back to the LG Rollable display that debuted in 2019.
The 2024 edition of CES may not include something as wildly futuristic as that, but many of the pre-show announcements point to a plethora of AI-related innovations in the TV space. AI processing isn’t new, per se, but with more attention being given to unique ways of leveraging the technology, we could see more convenience-based features roll out this year – things like auto adjustments to display or sound settings based on a variety of factors.
Consumers crave larger screens, so we’re also likely to see a number of massive displays on, um, display.
AI will, without a doubt, be the buzz word of the show when it comes to the smart home category. On the “edgier” side of AI, we’ve already seen an announcement from LG regarding a new AI-powered smart home robot, or “agent” in their words, that it says will act as a consumer’s smart home manager. Similarly, Samsung has plans to demo a number of AI-powered smart home gadgets including robot vacuum cleaners, stick handle vacuums, its Bespoke Refrigerators.
The other, more retail-ready component of the smart home that’ll be noteworthy is the continued development of the Matter protocol. Rolled out in force at CES 2023, Matter is the smart home protocol that promises to simplify things for the consumer – allowing all kinds of products to talk to one another and work together on a single platform. Some major players who’ve adopted the standard – including GE Appliances (GE Profile) and Whirlpool – will be at this show.
There’s another show at the end of the month that’s more relevant, perhaps, to independent furniture and bedding retailers. But CES 2024 is still something these dealers should still keep an eye on because of the buzz that’s created among consumers. You may not carry a line of floating mattresses, but it’s better to know they’re being talking about when a consumer comes in looking for one.
In all seriousness, sleep technology has been around at CES for nearly a decade if not longer, and the possibilities, while still small scale at this point, are exciting to think about. CES hands out a variety of Innovation Awards to all kinds of noteworthy product, and this year there are several mattress and sleep brands that received these honors.
Generally AI-based, the recognized products include things like a smart mattress that adjusts firmness, height and angle based on a users’ BMI and other daily activity data collected by a smart scale and other wearable devices. Another smart mattress has 23 flexible sensors embedded that track subtle changes in body position, temperature, heart rate and more to provide health data and even alerts when potential health issues exist.
No matter which categories you merchandise in your store, CES has a little bit of something for everyone. Even if these products never see the light of day on a retail show floor, it’s still exciting to see where the industry is (or could be) heading from an innovation standpoint.