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Why Consumer Tech Should Matter to You

By Gary Shapiro, president & CEO, Consumer Technology Association (World Trade Center Las Vegas)


Consumer technology reaches far beyond traditional tech companies, impacting industries ranging from healthcare to government, to sports and entertainment, and can be found in schools, hospitals, stores, restaurants, private companies and government agencies. Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of Consumer Technology Association (WTC Las Vegas) discusses why consumer tech should matter to everyone, and what to expect at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.

Twenty years ago we wouldn’t have recognized the world we live in today; today’s smartphones are more powerful than the computers that took the Apollo spacecraft to the moon. And consider Amazon: In 1999, it was a bookselling business. Today, it’s delivering everything from shoes to groceries to tech. In the mid-90s, I made an introduction between Bill Gates, then CEO of Microsoft, and Norio Ohga, then CEO of Sony. I listened to them discuss their concern over a new company called Samsung, but neither mentioned a little company called Apple.

When I think about my mother’s job selling encyclopedias door-to-door, and how families would often save to buy one book at a time, I’m awed that using just the phone in my hand I can now access any book or fact I am looking for, check the weather, change the thermostat, set my house alarm, navigate to work, track my steps and chat with friends on the other side of the world. 

At the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, we advocate for the entrepreneurs, technologists, and innovators who mold the future of technology. One of the ways we do this is through CES® – the world’s largest, most influential technology event and the gathering place for tens of thousands of companies and tech enthusiasts across a breadth of industries. Last year’s show brought together over 175,000 attendees and 4,500 exhibiting companies. In fact, more than 60,000 attendees come from outside of the U.S., including several delegations organized by World Trade Center partners. In January 2020, we’ll host the 52nd CES at the World Trade Center Las Vegas and other venues, and it’s going to be our most innovative show yet. Why? Because the technology that’s unveiled there keeps getting better and better. 

The earliest VCRs, CD players, plasma televisions, smartphones, self-driving vehicles, 3D printers and drones were all introduced for the very first time at past CES shows. Last year’s notable innovations included the world’s first battery-free hearing aid, a countertop dishwasher, a universal wireless charger for laptops and a product that creates clean, filtered, drinkable water from the air. This year, we’ll see new consumer technology in the AI, smart cities, 5G, cybersecurity, fitness, gaming, A/V, health, auto, mobile, robotics, smart home, virtual reality, photography, eco-design and drone industries. 

More human problems will be solved in the next two decades than we have solved in the last two centuries. In the not-too-distant future, diseases will be cured through focused ultrasound and gene-specific treatments, AI will match the capacity of a human brain, and self-driving vehicles will take most of us to work every day. That’s all thanks to consumer technology, and it will change the way all of us—and our customers—live and work. 

I invite you to come to CES, Jan. 7-10, 2020, and see the future for yourself. 

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer technology companies, and a New York Times best-selling author. He is the author of the new book, Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation . His views are his own.

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