Enterprise Mobility & the Connected Worker Blog

Five Observations From CES 2022: “We’re Almost Back”

by David Krebs | 1/10/2022

In-person CES returned after a two-year hiatus…albeit with a bit of a whimper. Attendance was estimated by CES as “up to 75,000” although it felt closer to 50K on Day 1. Exhibitors numbered 2,200, a sharp drop from over 4,400 in 2020 and lacking several blue-chip vendors that pulled out in the 11th hour amid the current Omicron surge. Attendee safety was front and center with the CTA (the show’s organizer) tasked with the virtually impossible job of creating and enforcing safety protocols. With the backdrop of COVID-19 omni-present, health tech predictably took center stage at CES 2022. This extended to the big stage with Abbott CEO delivering one of the event’s keynote addresses.

During the annual “CES Tech Trends to Watch” session, which kicked off the two media days in advance of CES officially opening, the key themes were mostly predictable. The session leaned heavily on common topics such as the continued and strong investments in the tech sector (startup funding increased by 105% between Q3 2021 and Q3 2020), supply chain cost increases (40’ container shipping costs increased from less than $2K in March 2020 to over $11K by October 2021) and chip shortage challenges (semiconductor lead times grew from just under 12 weeks in October 2020 to 22 weeks by September 2021). Included among CTA’s key trends to watch were Transportation, Space Tech, Sustainable Technology and Digital Health. From VDC’s perspective, the emphasis around Transportation solutions – in particular urban mobility and 21st century logistics – and enterprise networking – calling out the impact of the upcoming 3GPP Release 17 on 5G in the enterprise – were especially interesting.

With solutions on display spanning the bizarre to the benign, following are five that caught VDC’s eye during our brief attendance.

Tackling Food Waste with Computer Vision 

Food waste is a $400B+ problem in the US alone. Holland-based startup Orbisk is setting its sights on the hospitality sector with its solution that uses vision-based image recognition to reduce food waste during preparation in kitchens across the hospitality sector. According to the company’s own research a professional kitchen wastes an average of 90 to 190 lbs of food per day. Through their solution – which automatically recognizes the type of food being thrown out, a reduction of 50% of the waste is achievable, yielding annual savings in excess of $40,000.

Improving the Self-Checkout Experience with Computer Vision 

The self-checkout process especially in high-traffic environments such as grab and go convenience stores in hospitality environments remains a bottleneck. Add to that the desire to address contactless checkout requirements, organizations are evaluating next generation solutions to better meet these challenges. Mashgin, with its computer vision-based touchless checkout system, is directly addressing these requirements, targeting locations where customers are purchasing fewer than 10 items in venues like sports stadiums, convenience stores and cafeterias (in addition to packaged items the solution can also identify plated foods). Although the company has been at it for several years – with some of its earliest patents dating back to 2013/14 – commercialization has significantly ramped over the past 18 to 24 months with solutions now in use at over 500 locations. A combination of strong technology – in particular around 3D image recognition – and a target market with a clear need the company appears well positioned for future growth.

Addressing Driver Shortage and Safety with Autonomous Trucking 

Fresh off its inaugural truck run on open roads without a human in the vehicle, autonomous trucking startup TuSimple (NASDAQ: TSP) had a substantial presence at CES 2022. The company has struggled recently falling short of meeting some of its lofty goals – in particular regarding revenue generation/ commercialization by 2021. However, supported by various blue-chip partners and clients – including the likes of UPS, DHL, Schneider and others – the company is not backing down. The big challenge will be creating a “purpose-built” truck which the company claims is necessary to meet its performance goals. At CES 2022 TuSimple announced that it plans to scale its self-driving technology with Nvidia’s Drive Orin SoC (Nvidia lead TuSimple’s Series B round in 2017). According to the company, through its partnerships with Navistar, the Traton Group and Volkswagen’s heavy truck business, it is targeting 2024 to launch its purposed built solutions. The benefits of autonomous trucking are clear – especially in light of today’s significant driver shortage. In addition to addressing driver shortage, these solutions have the potential to address capacity constraints while also improving driver safety (5,000 annual fatalities on US roads) and reduce the environmental impact of long haul trucking (studies have shown a 10% reduction in fuel consumption by autonomous trucks).

Harnessing Wireless Power 

VDC has been following technology development company Ossia and their Cota wireless power solutions since first meeting the team at CES several years back. Although the technology has potentially limitless appeal, some of the initial applications use cases we envisioned included Ossia powered electronic shelf tags in retail. The low power profile of this application – and the ability to remove the challenge of replacing batteries – made it an ideal candidate (as opposed to the more common use cases such as powering/charging smart mobile devices). Prior to CES Ossia announced a partnership with Marubun to jointly develop a Cota Enabled IoT Sensor. Cota can wirelessly transmit power to a remote location (~ 10m) and also has a wireless communication function. Therefore, it has a high affinity with IoT devices and can provide one-stop "communication," "power," and "control" required for wireless IoT. In addition, at CES Ossia announced the Cota Power Table. The first generation of the wirelessly powered table brings power to device users without running wires to wall sockets by sending power over the air to tables containing charging equipment. The Cota Power Table does not need to be wired to wall sockets yet embeds charging capabilities found in every IoT device through coils or ports. The Cota Power Table was designed with hospitality businesses, such as hotels, airports, quick service restaurants, and coffee shops, in mind, and provides a flexible in-store experience for powering (or charging) multiple guest and employee devices simultaneously and eliminating competition for scarce outlets.

…Oh, and Sony Appears Serious about Building Cars 

Sony had one of the more prominent booth footprints at CES which included two new concept cars – the previously introduced Vision-S sedan and the new electric SUV Vision-S 02. In addition, at CES Sony announced a new division – Sony Mobility – to support these efforts. While Apple’s entry into the electric vehicle market has been the topic of much speculation, it appears that Sony has beaten them to the punch. However, becoming a serious player in the vehicle market requires substantial investments – one need only look at the fanfare and subsequent failure of previous CES darling Byton which failed to fully commercialize its concepts and recently had to shutter its operations. It is unclear how far Sony is willing to pursue this. Yet, with the newly established Sony Mobility, it is more seriously exploring commercial options.

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