Dhiman Basu Ray
Global Chief Technology Officer – Digital Engineering Services,
Tech Mahindra
Satish Burli
Head - Embedded Systems
Tech Mahindra

At CES 2023, the agenda was simple―to push the envelope for proactive, pre-emptive, and relevant innovation in the consumer electronics domain today. And it was successful. With a footfall of over 100,000 and more than 2,000 companies taking the stage to share their cutting-edge insights, the event was one to be remembered. In recent years, the category has reached new and previously unheard-of proportions with unmatched advancements in the areas of automotive and healthcare technology. And, with companies like AWS, Google, and Microsoft also joining the picture, the sky is truly the limit. The show promised a brave, new world for consumer electronics, with software-defined products like vehicles and digital health taking center stage. Let’s look at the key observations and insights from CES 2023.

The rise of SDVs

Today, vehicles have become one of the three basic venues where consumers spend most of their time, with the two other places being their homes and offices. As a natural outcome of increased prominence, they use electronic implementations. While offices and homes are the places where consumers reserve and use electronics, modern cars have transformed into wholly electronic specimens that border on the futuristic. With features like push-button paint jobs and electrified powertrains, today's cars have metamorphosed into complex devices. This systemic electrification of vehicles has led to the rise of the term software-defined vehicles or SDVs. This is because most features of the cars being manufactured today, tomorrow, and beyond will be controlled and managed through code.

It is no surprise that the size of the connected vehicles market is estimated to be over $120 billion in 2025. This global rise of SDVs was reflected in CES 2023, where the category reigned supreme among all other consumer electronic products. Multiple vehicle manufacturers chose the event to unveil unique SDV models and concepts.

The business imperative to align with SDVs, in turn, dictated the demand for energy management systems at the event, with a plethora of companies showcasing their products in this space. Some of their areas of focus were universal electronic chargers, optimized charging, energy conservation, and energy management solutions. The success of this vertical can be largely credited to battery-operated vehicles swiftly evolving into public utility vehicles like buses and trucks.

At the event, Navistar demonstrated an EV long-distance truck in collaboration with the heavy-truck division of Volkswagen. This is a key announcement, seeing as how the German giant announced the revival of Scout, their long-inactive off-road brand last year. The new-generation truck is similar to Tesla’s much-awaited, recently launched semi-truck, simply titled the Semi.

A segment of EVs that caused a stir at the event was electric-powered boats. Swedish enterprise Candela unveiled the prototype of a cutting-edge 8.5-meter-long electric-powered hydrofoil speedboat that can operate at a speed of over 35 kmph for over two hours. They faced steep competition from their Californian rival, Navier, which introduced a slightly longer alternative. With the rising costs of fuel and growing concerns for the environment, entrepreneurial efforts to launch electric-powered boats have shot up globally. By enabling the easy accessibility of waterways, technology has cracked open an untapped market of transportation that shows tremendous potential. From 2022 to 2031, the worldwide electric boat market is expected to grow past $16 billion at a CAGR of almost 13%. As small vessels enable the movement of people and goods alike in water, it’s only a matter of time before every marina turns into a train stop.

The showstopper of the event was the fully autonomous tractor by John Dere. Rewarded with the CES 2023 Innovation Award, the product is a state-of-the-art robot designed for the agriculture industry. It utilizes advanced technologies like AI, GPS guidance, sensors, and stereo cameras to independently perform the necessary tasks on a farm, eliminating the need for an operator. Equipped to perform tillage, the tractor helps farmers complete more important tasks while offering smartphone-enabled management. It also addresses the problem of the increasing labor shortage.

CES 2023 also saw Sony announcing its entry into the automobile sector by unveiling a prototype of Afeela, their upcoming EV in collaboration with Honda. Equipped with more than 40 cameras and sensors both inside and outside and a small media screen in between its headlights, the prototype of the one-of-its-kind sedan flaunted a classy look. The vehicle is all set to be launched in 2025.

Lightyear grabbed eyeballs at the event by unveiling its next EV Lightyear 2. With this vehicle, the company aims to deliver users with more freedom, time, and energy to travel without the burden of charging stations. Lightyear 2 aims to cover over 800 km in between plug charges. For shorter distances, Lighyear 2 can be powered with 100% free and clean solar energy.

French startup Maca Flight also unveiled the concept of hydrogen-powered flying race cars at the event, showcasing the possibilities of high-speed, recreational travel in the future.

The ascent of health-tech

Health and wellness were major topics at CES 2023, which featured a Digital Health Studio area for exhibitors to display their groundbreaking products in the health tech space. The event also featured multiple conference sessions which explored topics related to digital wellness.

Withings announced its revolutionary product, U-Scan, a pebble-shaped device that can scan urine to trace biomarkers such as vitamin and hydration levels. The chemical analysis of the urine is linked to a smartphone app that offers users suggestions like dietary changes, recipes, and workouts based on test results.

At the event, NuraLogix launched its Holy Grail – Anura – its transdermal optical imaging (TOI)-based app for contactless blood pressure measurements. It tracks vital signs in users through just a selfie. The app offers close to 1,000 diagnostics including blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels, and stress levels through a 30-second selfie.

Opteev Technologies stood out with Virawarm, its convenient and affordable breath analyzer. With its ability to detect RSV, influenza, and COVID-19 in less than a minute, the compact and reusable device is poised to make waves in the health tech industry.

The larger ecosystem at play

The three key areas that were common in all these product unveilings and launches were customer experience, sustainability, and safety. To deliver an enhanced customer experience (CX), data analytics is no longer an option but a necessity. By analyzing customer data with next-generation technologies like AI, manufacturers can generate insights into customer psychology which, in turn, facilitates improved CX.

However, implementing data analytics in areas such as data acquisition and quality checks generates humongous amounts of data. Through these processes, organizations are not only acquiring large amounts of data about the product but also about the people whom the products interact with, throughout their life cycle. This raises the question of data security.

Also, as EVs operate in a connected ecosystem, it becomes more difficult to protect user data. To address this challenge, enterprises are now focusing on areas of cybersecurity. Due to a growing environmental awareness, EVs have become the vehicle of choice for many. But to sustain this popularity in the long run, the time has come for manufacturers to look at sustainability from a wider lens.

Interestingly, CES 2023 was marked by many tech giants officially joining the EV ecosystem, indicating the fading dominance of the industry by a once-handful of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and system integrators (SIs). This was made even more clear by the setting up of the first-of-its-kind AWS Automotive booth at the event.

Looking at the future through CES lens

With every company, platform, and technology becoming a use case and industry-focused, businesses must be more conscious of the larger ecosystem at play. As giants like Microsoft and Google are also entering the ecosystem, the future of the EV industry will be guided by a blinkered focus on the convergence between the traditional OEMs, SIs, hyperscalers, and semiconductor players.

About the Authors

Dhiman Basu Ray
Global Chief Technology Officer – Digital Engineering Services, Tech Mahindra

Dhiman Basu Ray is the Chief Technology Officer at Tech Mahindra Engineering Services. Dhiman has more than two decades of business, technology, and engineering transformation experience across verticals with strong foundation in digital technologies.  He is an avid thought leader and has been featured in multiple publications and has delivered speaking sessions in forums like CIO Review, Cloud Connect, Data Quest, NASSCOM – to name a few.

Satish Burli
Head - Embedded Systems, Tech Mahindra

Satish Burli heads the Embedded Solutions practice at Tech Mahindra Engineering Services. An alumnus of NITK, Suratkal and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Satish has over 25 years of experience in semiconductors, communication technology and its application across automotive, IoT, industrial and consumer electronics. Satish has worked across product engineering companies, semiconductor OEMs and startups developing IPs/solutions. He is an avid cricket fan and loves trekking and travelling.