Virtual events face hard reality


Trade shows are a different animal altogether. But the Canadian developments seem foreboding for a couple of major events coming up early next year: CES and the NADA Show.

CES, the consumer electronics show that is usually held in Las Vegas, has grown into the pre-eminent auto show in North America — even as the transportation industry vies for attention there with gaming, photography, robotics and every other type of breakthrough technology one can imagine.

Switching to a virtual format this year led to a partnership with Microsoft, which has a suite of software for group meetings and what is now essentially a video production, said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which hosts CES.

“We’re also creating it so that exhibitors will have their own video presence and an interactive link which allows them to meet with potential customers, show off technology, and it’ll be a very different experience,” he explained on Automobile News |’ Daily Drive podcast.

Last year in Las Vegas, we saw some pretty interesting news from automakers, most notably Hyundai showing a concept of a flying car it intends to make for Uber, and Toyota announcing its plans to build a futuristic, high-tech community called Woven City, a nod to its past as a manufacturer of automated looms.

Will such audacious efforts be revealed during a different, digital CES, alongside dozens or hundreds of other video presentations? Perhaps. Or they may decide they’ll get more attention another week.

The entirety of the event also benefits from its tradition of top-flight keynote speakers, which this year includes General Motors CEO Mary Barra. I have no doubt that registrations will be huge when they begin Dec. 1.

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