CES 2023: New ‘metaverse’ headphones are buzzing as the tech industry tries to change the subject

LAS VEGAS – The annual tech event known as CES returns to semi-normal status here this week, with a focus on virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, automotive technology, and ubiquitous high-definition displays.

But what the tech industry is seeking above all else is a much-needed jolt of disruption after an abrupt end to a year marked by the gutting of tech stocks, the collapse of crypto platform FTX, a simulant “metaverse”, market-streaming pulverized and general creative malaise.

“It’s time for technology to stand up and make a statement,” Gary Shapiro, chief executive officer of the Consumer Technology Association, told CNET. The association manages the CES.

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After a few quiet years due to COVID-19 restrictions, including a fully virtual edition in 2021, the technology industry’s flagship event kicks off for media on Wednesday with a series of product announcements from Sony Group Corp. SONY,
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and LG Corp. 003550,
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as well as keynote speeches from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. AMD,
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CEO Lisa Su and BMW BMW,
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President Oliver Zipse. The Chief Executive Officers of Deere & Co. DE,
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and Delta Air Lines Inc. DAL,
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they should speak on Thursday, when the show opens to all.

CES organizers expect 100,000 people to attend, up from 44,000 a year ago. Prior to the pandemic, attendance at the show typically ranged between 150,000 and 182,000.

Read more: CES organizers aim for more than double attendance as ‘big business wants physical connection’

Absent the boldface names of previous CES shows, such as Microsoft Corp.’s MSFT,
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Bill Gates, then CEO, and INTC of Intel Corp.,
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former CEOs, the organizers are betting on high-impact product announcements. One possibility is the 2498 from HTC Corp.,
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the new $1,300 Vive Focus 3 headset, which will delight “metaverse” users ahead of Apple Inc.’s scheduled AAPL launch,
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helmet by the end of the year.

“Vive is a strong offering but it won’t spark a sudden rush on metaverse apps,” Gartner analyst Darin Stewart told CNET. “It’s validation of the efforts in the general market among those who drank the Kool-Aid,” he said, warning that ultimately Apple will drive consumer sales while Microsoft will drive the corporate side of augmented and virtual reality efforts.

“In the long run, the metaverse will be an important replacement for in-person conventions like CES,” said Jun Nishiguchi, CEO of Toraru, a Japanese company that develops its own metaverse.

AI has generated a lot of interest in the industry, especially in the form of automated tools used by businesses to help keep costs down while maintaining customer service. Gartner projects that global revenue from AI-enabled virtual assistants will reach $7.1 billion in 2022, up about 15% from 2021. It remains to be seen how much of the hottest tech trend, Generative AI applications such as ChatGPT, will be showcased in the exhibition hall.

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EVs, which had seemingly stalled for a few years, got a boost Tuesday when Nvidia Corp. NVDA,
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announced that it will produce electronic control units for electric vehicles produced by Foxconn 2317,
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The partnership involves Nvidia’s Orin Drive System on a Chip, the central computer for intelligent vehicles.

Global EV shipments will reach 6.3 million units for 2022, up 34% from 2021, according to Gartner.

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Annual Design Magic 005930,
+3.43%
arrives this year in the form of the Flex Hybrid, a new prototype smart mobile device with a foldable, sliding screen. The prototype, which is based on the same concepts Samsung uses on its foldable phones, can expand from a 10.5-inch 4:3 screen to a 12.4-inch screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10.

In the more mundane news, Intel showed off its 13th generation mobile processor, which it claims is the “world’s fastest mobile processor.”

Then there are potential surprises off the beaten track in Deere’s crop management technology and a health app called i-Virtual that can determine vital signs such as heart rate, respiratory rate and stress level based on facial recognition, according to the Gartner analyst Eric Brethenoux.

The same goes for dog collars: an AI tool from French Invoxia helps owners monitor the vital signs and GPS of their favorite pets.

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