IoT outlook improves at CES, paced by smart cities

  • January 12, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

The outlook for CES was surely not as bright as the Las Vegas sky last week but, as far as the IoT sector is concerned, definitely not as gloomy as some of the published reporting.

One report pegged attendance at 45,000, which would be roughly 70% down from the 2020 show. An informal poll of 14 exhibitors at the show’s IoT Infrastructure Pavilion, however, put their interactions at roughly 20 to 30% down from the last live CES. Furthermore, all 14 stated that the quality of their interactions improved significantly, with one IoT exhibitor summing it up best by saying: “The tourists are gone.”

The IoT Infrastructure Pavilion, as well as a full conference programme and networking events, were organised by the IoT M2M Council (IMC), as the exclusive IoT partner for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which owns and operates CES. The IMC is the largest trade association serving the IoT sector, with 25,000 product makers, enterprise users and apps developer as rank-and-file members.

The subject of smart cities – how municipalities are using connectivity technology to improve living quality – was the hottest IoT topic at the big show, judging by the CTA’s conference sessions. The best attended session, titled “City CIO versus Public Works: Merging Digital and Physical Infrastructure”, was organised by the IMC and drew an estimated audience of over 100 with imposed social-distancing. The panel was moderated by the Strategy of Things consulting group and it featured Lily Mei, mayor of Fremont, California, and well-known IoT author Jonathan Reichental, who was formerly the CIO of Palo Alto in Silicon Valley.

Since new jobs are far outpacing new housing development in northern California, public transportation was a focus of the panel, with several new takes on traffic technology and alternatives for mobility.

To cite one example, the city of Fremont has used autonomous vehicles to deliver food to homeless people on its streets during Covid. In another case, the city implemented bike-sharing services in conjunction with the development of new public bike paths with the expectation of subsequent improvements in public health. Both Mei and Reichental pointed to the importance of public-private partnerships to accelerate the adoption of smart cities technology.

Other IMC conference panels at CES 2022 included titles: “IoT is Fundamental to Electric Vehicles”, “Telehealth Equals the New Normal” and “IoT in the Smart Home: Total Home Integration”. The group also organised a series of individual presentations at the show on IoT subjects as broad afield as consumer wearables and systems for remote building management.