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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: January 2024

Tech Column: 2024 Consumer Electronics Show

Jeffrey M Allen and Ashley Hallene


  • The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) focuses the show on the business of technology, including trends, new developments, and new products.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) had a significant presence throughout the show, transcending other categories and appearing in everything from automotive technology to the connected home, gaming, robotics, and health care.
  • Digital health tools that aim to improve the delivery of care for patients, such as medical devices and diagnostics, were prominently displayed as a trend.
  • These technologies can empower consumers to make better-informed decisions about their health and provide new options for facilitating prevention, early diagnosis of life-threatening diseases, and managing chronic conditions outside of traditional healthcare settings.
Tech Column: 2024 Consumer Electronics Show
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Every January (barring pandemics) the developers and manufacturers of electronics devices for consumers travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, to demonstrate their wares and endeavor to attract buyers and the attention of the press. They call that gathering the Consumer Electronics Show (CES);  the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) now owns, organizes, and controls the show. CES continues as one of the largest conventions in Las Vegas and the largest in-person independently audited tech show in the world.

Buyers and media representatives make an annual January pilgrimage to Las Vegas to attend CES.  The show allows them to learn about trends, new developments, and new products.  It also gives resellers the opportunity to order products for resale.  When I first attended a CES in the late 1980’s, the Consumer Electronics Association owned the show and people not associated with the industry or members of the media could get into the show relatively easily. The current owner, CTA, has focused the show on the business of technology, strictly limiting attendance to industry members, media and exhibitors; and it jealously enforces those limitations.  If you cannot prove you legitimately belong in one of those categories, good luck trying to get into the show.  For most of the last 30 years, I have made my way to Las Vegas to attend the CES as a member of the media, with press credentials.  I go to CES to learn about new trends and products we can write about and to coordinate with manufacturers respecting obtaining samples for review and inclusion in the articles and books we write.  It has proven an invaluable resource.

CES has grown dramatically over the years; and sometimes quite rapidly.  To give you some sense of perspective, CES 2024 used over 2.5 million net square feet of space for exhibits (15% more than in 2023), had over 4300 exhibitors, including over 1400 startups and over 135,000 attendees from 150 countries, regions, and territories. 

Over the course of time, different tech trends have developed and surfaced at CES.  In recent years the emphasis seems to have shifted heavily to automotive technology, the connected home, and, most recently, to health-tech. This year artificial intelligence (AI) had a significant presence, transcending other categorizations.  AI applications appeared in everything from automotive technology to the connected home, gaming, robotics, and health care. Most exhibitors I saw at CES talked about implementing AI into their products. This year the CES had a myriad of AI-infused products angling for attention, including, by way of example only: lamps, lawn mowers, vacuums, mirrors, meat thermometers, dog collars, and even pillows. Samsung showed off an AI robot named Ballie and refrigerators with AI vision that can recognize foods to suggest recipes or tell you when the expiration date is near. Samsung's washing machines will use AI too, learning your habits and suggesting cycles. An array of products using AI also appeared in the area of health tech.

It appears that in the immediate future, healthcare services will show massive changes, due to  implementing artificial intelligence into applications and products.  AI applications can simplify patient’s lives and the work of medical professionals, medical students, and hospital administrators by carrying out tasks typically done by humans, in less time and at a fraction of the cost.

While AI represents one of the biggest topics in technology in 2024, it does not serve as the focus of this article.  This article will focus on the health-tech portion of the show.  Several years ago, health tech represented a relatively small portion of the exhibitors at CES.  In recent years, health tech has, to my observation, grown faster than any other sector and, in 2024, included a substantial portion of the exhibitors at the show.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, digital health includes categories such as mobile health, health IT, wearable devices, telehealth and telemedicine, and personalized medicine. From mobile medical apps and software that support physicians’ clinical decisions, to artificial intelligence and machine learning, technology has been “driving a revolution in healthcare,” according to the agency. 
The tools of digital health – computing platforms, connectivity, software, sensors and more - dramatically improve clinicians’ ability to accurately diagnose and treat disease. They also improve delivery of care for individual patients through, for example, medical devices, diagnostics, research, drugs, and biologics. This was a trend prominently displayed throughout the show in January. Examples of monitoring devices displayed at the show include blood pressure monitors, glucose monitors for diabetics, pulse monitors, heart monitors, blood oxygen monitors, and fall detectors.  Many devices display information for the patient and transmit the information to the healthcare provider.

Digital tools give providers a more holistic view of patient health through easier and better access to data; it also gives patients more control over their health. Digital health offers opportunities to improve medical outcomes and enhance efficiency.

These technologies can empower consumers to make better-informed decisions about their own health and provide new options for facilitating prevention, early diagnosis of life-threatening diseases, and management of chronic conditions outside of traditional health care settings. Providers and other stakeholders use digital health technologies in their efforts to:

  • Reduce inefficiencies,
  • Improve access,
  • Reduce costs,
  • Increase quality, and
  • Make medicine more personalized for patients.

Patients and consumers can use digital health technologies to better manage and track their health and wellness-related activities.

In addition to monitoring and reporting conditions to patients and their physicians, health tech displayed at CES included many devices designed to reduce pain, improve physical conditioning, mental and emotional states, sleep, and even sexual performance.  Other devices work to mitigate the impact of disabilities. Many of those devices represented an evolution of earlier devices;  some represent breaking new ground.

This year I saw more assistive devices addressing hearing loss than any other disability.  Recently the FDA adopted regulations allowing vendors to sell hearing aids over the counter (OTC), not just through audiologists.  Since those regulations, many companies have offered OTC hearing aids.  The OTC hearing aids do not require prescriptions or the services of an audiologist.  The prices I have seen for such devices varies from several hundred dollars to almost $3000.  Compare that to the price for audiologist-provided hearing aids that can cost upwards of $5000.  Consumers can purchase OTC hearing aids in brick-and-mortar stores or online.  Designed for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, many of the OTC devices can make a major difference in the lives of the users.  For people with severe or profound hearing loss, the OTC devices do not offer a good solution and they still need to see an audiologist.  Given that many people who need hearing aids do not have health insurance that covers them, the availability of low or lower cost OTC devices allows more people who need the assistive technology to get and benefit from it.

Hearing aids function by magnifying the sound so the user can hear it.  The more sophisticated devices focus the magnification for one-on-one conversations; but notwithstanding that, still magnify other sounds, making it difficult for the user to clearly hear a conversation in a crowded and noisy environment, such as a restaurant.  Whether the manufacturers of traditional hearing aids will solve that problem remains to be seen.  One of the most creative and innovative devices I saw at CES this year came from a company called Xander.  They have created a pair of captioning glasses that produce a concurrent transcript for the user to read during a conversation.  The glasses allow the user to carry on and understand a conversation in a noisy environment.  I know that the system works, as I tried it out on the very noisy exhibit floor at CES.  The Xander Glasses will come onto the market at the somewhat high price point of $5000, the same cost as a high-quality pair of audiologist-provided hearing aids.

I have run out of space, but just touched on the vast array of health tech at this year’s CES;  remember that health tech represented only a part of the universe of consumer electronics on display at the show.  Technology continues to advance rapidly and in many areas.  Look forward to the advantages that it will provide to you today, tomorrow, and the days that follow.