Tens of thousands of people have flocked to Las Vegas for more than 50 years to feast their eyes on the latest technology – but that all changes next year.
Organizers of the wildly popular Consumer Electronics Show (CES) announced that the 2021 tech conference will be held ‘online-only’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although the event will be digital, viewers can still attend keynotes, meetings, product showcase and networking events and the in-person show is set to resume in 2022.
The news comes a month after the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) said CES would be held physically, as the team was set to implement safety measures, including sanitation stations, contactless scans at entry points and on-site medical aid.
‘With the growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it is not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person,’ CES shared in the Tuesday announcement.
‘An all-digital CES 2021 will allow the entire tech community to safely share ideas and introduce the products that will shape our future.
‘You’ll be able to participate in all the awe-inspiring moments of CES wherever you are in the world. We are designing a unique experience for the tech industry.’
The CTA notes that the 2021 event will ‘offer a highly personalized experience,’ as everyone will have a front-row seat to keynotes and conferences.
Viewers can still explore the show floor and search for products or services of interest, along with have live meetings with others attending.
Tuesday’s announcement sings a different tune than the plans CTA revealed in June, which said the show must go on – in so many words.
‘You can expect to see a wider selection of livestreamed CES content, along with many other engaging digital and virtual opportunities, enabling you to connect with the world’s leading technology innovators, thought leaders and policymakers,’ read the June announcement.
‘We will showcase our exhibitors’ products, technology breakthroughs and ideas to the world, both physically in Las Vegas and digitally.’
However, the recent news may not come as a surprise as many, if not all, in-person conference have been pushed to digital events.
The announcement also comes after an April report that claims to have evidence that this year’s CES may have played a key role in US coronavirus outbreak.
The event had carried on amid the outbreak happening in China, which experts say created ‘an ideal venue for transmission.’
Multiple attendees became seriously ill following the days after CES, but were dismissed as have nothing more than the ‘CES flu’ that occurs every year.
What alarmed some experts was that these individuals suffered different symptoms than previous years including fever, shortness of breath, dry cough, pains and body aches – all of which are caused by COVID-19.
A professor who attended the conference came down with a sickness after the event and recently tested positive for coronavirus antibodies – making his case ‘the first clear evidence that the virus was likely circulating at the conference.’
The conference was attended by more than 180,000 people, many of whom were from outside of the US, and more than 100 of the people traveled from Wuhan, China where the coronavirus first began.
The news comes from APM Reports, an investigative news publication, which spoke with one of the attendees who recently tested positive for the coronavirus.
Michael Webber, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, tested positive for antibodies for Covid-19 in April and although CES was held months ago, he had fallen ill shortly after the conference ended.
Webber told the publication that his ‘revelation comes at the same time that public health officials in Northern California, including Silicon Valley, reported three newly confirmed coronavirus deaths.’
He also shared his struggle on Twitter, noting he felt swollen, had body aches, struggled to breath and had a fever for days.
A tweet on January 18 read: ‘I know in my brain I don’t have this virus,’ he wrote.
‘But I spent last week in Las Vegas w/ my boss at #CES2020 w/ 170k people including many from China & we got a weird respiratory cold that made us sick for a week so my paranoid self is convinced that I have this new killer virus.’