What Designers Should Expect at CES 2020

January 07, 2020 by Hannah DeTavis

CES isn't just for consumer gadgets. Here are some trends at the show that may affect your designs.

While Consumer Electronics Show 2020 (January 7–10 in Las Vegas) will showcase its fair share of flashy new consumer gadgets, the event will also cover trending topics that appeal to hardware engineers. 


CES 2020

The Consumer Technology Association calls CES the "largest tech show on the planet" with more than 4,500 exhibiting companies. Image (modified) used courtesy of the Consumer Technology Association

Hundreds of big-name and up-and-coming semiconductor companies will debut and demonstrate new technologies at the show. Expect to see ROHM, NXP, ST, and TI alongside AKM Semiconductor, Marvell Semiconductor Inc., and Shenzhen Goodix Technology.  

While many of the sessions at CES circle industry topics from a mile high, it’s possible that these conversations will affect the direction of future projects engineers will be tasked to power from the ground up. 

Here are a few discussions on the agenda to keep your eye on: 


5G and IoT

Speakers at CES 2020 are, unsurprisingly, narrowing in even more on 5G and IoT technology. We’ve recently seen more concrete steps to make 5G a reality—like the implementation of Polyphenylene Sulfide as a polymer film for 5G circuit boards—and the conference will follow this trajectory. 


Qualcomm presents at Media Days.

Qualcomm presents at Media Days. Image used courtesy of Consumer Technology Association


For instance, one session will address plans to catalyze complete smart cities by strategically blending new technology with aging infrastructure. Another discussion addresses “5G capabilities [that] are embedded at the outset with secure and resilient capabilities.”


Health and Wellness, Home and Family

Although CES 2020 lists 5G and IoT as its own parent category, these topics seem to be an omnipresent theme of the show. For instance, Health and Wellness and Home and Family sessions are fueled largely by IoT devices that engineers design. 

Sessions titled “Smart Health Just Got Smarter,” “Cutting-edge Neuromodulation Tackles Disease on All Fronts,” and “Audacious Futures: 5G and Next-Gen Doctoring” speak to this point.


Tech and healthcare

Consumer Technology Association (CTA) recently published an article on "5 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Health Care," a prominent theme at CES 2020. Image used courtesy of the Consumer Technology Association

One particularly interesting session explores the “electrical” side of human physiology. This session will showcase how bioelectronics, specifically low-current devices, are said to offer therapeutic benefits—in this case, in wearables that have alleviated suicidal ideations in children.


The conversation on IoT intersects with automotive innovations in a session on how IoT and AI can, together, revolutionize the automotive sector at the hardware level—especially when it comes to vehicle connectivity and autonomous driving. 

The session, “End-to-End Automotive IoT Integration: The Competitive Edge,” will likewise assess how IoT will drive the automotive value chain—starting at design. 


Bosch's new 3D display

Bosch's new 3D display is built to revolutionize in-vehicle safety and entertainment. Image used courtesy of the Consumer Technology Association

Under the umbrella of “vehicle technology” will also be a session revealing promising innovations in space transportation—expanding on AAC’s recent take on new components for aerospace and defense


Product Design and Manufacturing

The most relevant sessions for designers will appear in Product Design and Manufacturing

Presenters will walk attendees through “Revolutionizing Package Design,” “Improving Speed to Market,” “Incorporating Secure Development Lifecycle into Product Design,” and “Integrating Sustainability Thinking Into New Product Design,” among others.

These sessions target prickly realities of the design process, answering questions like, “How do I factor in security at the chip level?”, “How can I prioritize sustainable materials in my design?”, and “How can I speed up prototyping as my company expands?” 


Robotics and Machine Intelligence

While the sessions on Robotics and Machine Intelligence are more consumer-facing, several sessions will hike up the energy for designers in attendance with competitions and hands-on demonstrations—some that may even prove useful for more sophisticated designs. 

One event will consist entirely of startups pitching their robotics hardware ideas and strategies to a panel of judges who will then award winning companies with prizes. 


da Vinci Surgical System

A medical operation involving the da Vinci Surgical System. Image (modified) used courtesy of Master Video

Omron, known for its biomedical components, will present on new automated technology built to facilitate in-home sleep clinics and advancements in heart monitoring

Other sessions will dissect the crossover of 5G and robotics, AI and retail, and machine learning and wearables


Stay Tuned

In the past few days alone, CES 2020 has released a number of relevant products for circuit board design, some of which we’ve already covered (like OmniVision’s 4K video processor and UltraSense Systems’ ultrasound SoC). 

The Consumer Technology Association has dedicated a page to product announcements unveiled at the show.



Are you at CES this year? What trends stand out to you? What innovations do you foresee influencing future designs or design processes?