NFTs, metaverse highlight first day
The final head count will be far lower than the nearly 175,000 attendees who flocked to CES in 2020, just before COVID swept the world, but the “most influential tech event in the world” returned to Las Vegas on Wednesday. Between 50,000 and 75,000 people will attend the conference, all required to be fully vaccinated and wear masks on the showroom floors.
“We know it will be a smaller show this year, for obvious reasons,” Jean Foster, senior vice president at event organizer Consumer Technology Association, told the Associated Press.
There are remote options for those who couldn’t make it in person, and some major tech companies have declined their usual spaces at the event where the VCR was first unveiled in 1970 and in more recent years Chevy debuted its Bolt EV, among countless tech marvels showcased.
Still, people were excited to gather once more after an all-virtual CES in 2021.
“An online CES is not a real CES,” Prince Constantijn of the Kingdom of the Netherlands told the AP in December, though he did not make the trip to Las Vegas. “You’ve got to see the products and meet the people.”
Perhaps more excited than anyone are the people whose livelihoods depend on large conventions coming to Sin City. The 2020 event contributed approximately $300 million to Las Vegas’ economy and is one of the city’s biggest annual draws, setting the tone for a good year for hotels, casinos, and restaurants.
Given that much of life has moved online since the pandemic, it’s perhaps no surprise that the biggest topics this year are NFTs and the metaverse. GM CEO Mary Barra delivered the keynote address Wednesday, but she did so virtually from Detroit.