CES 2021 is officially over. Despite being a remote, virtual experience this year, CES has shown that it is still a fantastic way to get a taste of the tech year ahead. We took away several insights into future technology, gadgets, and trends for the coming year and beyond. Now that we’ve had a chance to reflect on what we saw and read about; we have several key takeaways that validated our 2021 predictions.
In GaN Systems’ 2021 Top Technology Predictions in Power Electronics, we summed up that 2021 will be the year when companies must double down on digitally-driven experiences, operational excellence, products, supply chains, and ecosystems with the impetus to apply advanced technologies to succeed. In short, it’s about adapting to the “new normal” and leveraging the right technologies to help facilitate the changes happening in all facets of our lives.
In-Line with Our Predictions
The key trends that have carried on to 2021 include 5G, electric and autonomous vehicles, robots, wireless power, and audio:
- Associated Press writes that “5G will be here in 2021.” The attention is on the entire 5G ecosystem, including the devices and activities that are leveraging these networks from autonomous vehicles, mobile and smart home technology, distance learning, and telemedicine. The explosion of connected devices and companies’ increasing move to online marketplaces and services means more data. While data centers aren’t a big topic of conversation at CES – 5G will impact the number of data centers built in the next several years and how they are designed (with energy efficiency in mind).
- EVs and AVs remain a hot topic at CES. According to TechRepublic, this is the year of EVs. While we believe it may be another two to three years before the EV market hits its tipping point, all roads point to electrification in the automotive industry. GM’s keynote highlighted the huge progress in battery design with its Ultium battery technology, new EVs on the way, and debut of its new EV business unit.
- Robots and Drones continue to generate buzz from industrial robots like John Deere’s AI and robotics-powered tractor to LG’s autonomous UV-C light robot and companion robots. Robot vacuums such as Samsung’s JetBot 90 AI +, which won Best Connected Home Product in CES’ 2021 “Best of CES” awards, even has a built-in security camera. Sony also made a splash with its Airpeak drone, which won the “Best of CES” in the Robot or Drone category.
- Like AirFuel, GaN Systems’ believes that the future of wireless power is bright as more companies deliver inductive wireless power technologies in the coming years. AirFuel in partnership with IEEE recently brought together wireless power experts at the Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC), which was held in conjunction with CES. See AirFuel’s CES recap here.
- Audio continues to take center stage. Harman CEO Michael Mauser in his interview with CNBC highlighted that the growing demand for premium audio will continue. We also demand for smaller, better sounding, and connected audio devices. Innovations at CES included the smallest car audio subwoofer from Pioneer, Sony’s 360 Reality Audio Speakers, which won Best Home Theater Product at the CES 2021 awards, and LG’s miniature LG QP5 ÉCLAIR soundbar.
GaN’s Impact in the Electronics Ecosystem
GaN chargers made a splash at last year’s CES, but its impact doesn’t stop there. GaN is more than just for charging phones. GaN power semiconductors are increasingly found in devices from power supplies, audio systems (Class-D audio systems with GaN are smaller, lighter, and provide superior sound quality), high power laptops, next generation televisions, and wireless charging systems for robots and drones as well as in EV vehicle designs.
If there is one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that a pandemic can’t slow technological development and innovation. The advancements shared at this year’s CES are a true testament to the value that technology can play in our lives.