CES 2020 Takeaways

January 20, 2020

Over 20,000 products were unveiled to more than 170,000 attendees at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. Whipsaw annually attends the show to support our peers and contribute to discussions on what’s to come in industrial design.

The products on display tied into this year’s central CES themes which included AI, Mobile Connectivity, Dystopian Design, Tech for Good, Diversity and Inclusion, Travel and Tourism, and Vehicle Technology, among others. CES honored Whipsaw in the Innovation category for our designs of the Deco X90 (whole-home mesh wifi system) and the new Tile Sticker tracker

Here are some CES 2020 insights from Whipsaw CEO Dan Harden, Directors of Industrial Design Ari Turgel and Cole Derby, and Senior Industrial Designer Wei Gu.


1. Can you describe the overall vibe of the conference this year compared with others?


I haven’t missed CES since 1995 and each year always has its own unique vibe. This year felt positive and upbeat. Partly fueled by a good economy, but even more so by promising new tech (that was considered Sci-Fi only a few years ago) becoming more commonplace today. Such as 5G, wide AI application, affordable robotics, data-driven IoT, miniature biometric sensors and many more.


There were strong advancements in home automation. Especially with regards to workflow within the household metabolism (LG had smart doors and secure cubbies for deliveries, including refrigeration for perishables). There were also the usual advancements in displays, including impossible resolutions, reduced (or sometimes eliminated) bezels, and transmissive models with impressive color saturation.

On the other hand, there was technology that seemed to be built-in simply for the awe factor. Some examples of this included overbuilt super-yachts, autonomous land and air transports with no real roadmap or infrastructure for implementation, Keurig cocktail makers, and robots and personal vehicle concepts with subversion to make humanity lazier…Think Wall-E.


I had expectations that CES 2020 would be bigger and better than it was in previous years and that companies would present their boldest ideas to kick off this new decade. In general, however, there was much of the same from previous years, including drones, robots, delivery services, smart home integration, and automation designed to make humans lazier.

It’s always a bit of a scavenger hunt to find all the innovative designs displayed by CES. It takes time to comb through booth by booth. It did feel as though CES 2020 had more attendees this year, making it difficult at times to see the latest concepts through a crowded sea of people.  Who would have thought 250,000 square feet of show floor could feel claustrophobic!


CES felt like a big techie party this year filled with more than 4500 exhibitors, 170,000 attendees, and numerous products. Some of the products met my expectations while other designs were beyond imagination. Most exhibitors seemed to put more effort into the hardware than the software or services, but I did see companies like Samsung showcasing gorgeous content along with cleverly-designed apps. It was also interesting to wander between booths and check out the new mainstream products on display in various categories like the TWS earbuds in the Audio category.


photo credit CES® 



2. What were your top picks for the most innovative designs displayed?



  • Glutrac non-invasive no needle blood glucose reader
  • Willow in-bra breast pump
  • IOTTY smart switches
  • Opte precision skincare
  • Valerann smart road sensor (makes roads safer & traffic smoother)
  • Pragrant electric deodorant device
  • Nextmind brain sensor
  • Ible Airvida wearable air purifier
  • Deeproute all-in-one roof rack mounted self-driving system
  • LG Mondrian-inspired colored glass front fridge
  • Samsung Ballie mini roll-around robot
  • LG veggie grow fridge
  • LG Dual screen phone
  • Horizontal-to-vertical rotating TVs from all TV makers so your phone content can finally be displayed on your TV (that integration has been goal for almost 10 years).


Delta Airlines’ “Parallel Reality” displays were hands-down the best thing at the show. There was some great lighting in the Audi concept car area, which is not often seen in other consumer products. The LG Smart Home also exhibited great cohesion and made tons of sense from the perspective of workflow and usability.


I’m always impressed more by companies that combine a variety of technologies and services in ways that appear seamless and logically-designed around real user needs. They make you forget about all the little building blocks, (like the up-sold advancement of “voice control”) and focus your attention only on the composition.

Here are my top picks:

  • The Rivian R1T Electric Pickup Truck: new introduction into a tough market segment with lots of well thought out innovations.
  • LG ThinQ Smart Door: a great solution for new user pain points dealing with the delivery of fresh food and eliminating package theft.
  • Samsung The Wall: a new micro-LED technology allowing screens to be any size imaginable with no border.
  • Mercedes Avatar Concept Car: Who cares about solving all our daily pain points? Here’s a concept car that gives our analytical mind a break and allows us to be curious and imagine. These purely conceptual designs do influence the way we design for the real world.


Mercedes Avatar Concept Car



  • The Samsung Ballie: This serves as a user’s home IoT hub, daily life assistant, and personal health monitor based on its AI capability.
  • LG Smart Door: It was an unexpected concept featuring a comprehensive home gate solution including a secure camera, weather reminder, food and package delivery system, and biometric access.



3. Based on the range of innovative products at CES 2020, what do you think we can expect to see in this new decade of design?


Products that think and adapt to you based on real-time data gathering, advanced sensors, and AI that creatively presents function and information in a construct you want and understand.


Technology is really lending itself towards providing integrated product experiences intended to streamline activities for busy users, such as homemaking, shopping, and getting around town. For those who can afford it, these promise to more seamlessly embed themselves into the user’s home, transportation and pocket. There are also the outlier concept/vision pieces that seem to intend to make for a lazier human race that will not appreciate the experience of going for a walk or making their own food.


Integration that makes sense: The focus will be less on solving individual issues and more on creating products that solve the big picture. I think a younger generation of doers will begin connecting all the dots laid by those that constructed emerging technology in the 2000s and 2010s. Things will start making sense as tech becomes integrated into better human experiences. I think there will be a larger focus on prevention in both environmental and personal health. At the moment, tech has been largely reactive. Piggybacking on prevention is predictive…More products and experiences will predict behavior and make our lives more seamless in the way we commute and communicate.



  • Smart almost everything: This smart technology will be utilized for robots, IoTs, transportation, health assistants, displays, and even sex toys will perform beyond the user’s imagination based on AI capabilities.Invisible Design: In this type of design, features and details will not be visible at first glance, and will only become exposed when the products are in use.
  • Seamless connection: This applies to products using connections powered by invisible technology. They incorporate a thoughtful user experience with a reliable hardware platform.



4. Who were the key players at this year’s CES, and who should we look out for in 2020? 


Amazon was a key player because of their strategic reach to incorporate Alexa into many other brands and product types (home, car, office).
Samsung and LG are always key and they continued their innovation drives this year. The unsung hero startups in small booths also had some breathtakingly awesome ideas this year.


LG Indoor Vertical Farm, photo credit KTLA


I thought the key players were LG (displays and smart home), Delta Airlines (customer experience), Samsung (displays), and Haier (smart home).


The key players this year were Samsung, LG, Uber, Hyundai, Sony, and Mercedes. In the next decade, we should look out for Chinese service industry disruptors (Skyworth, TCL and Haier), and delivery of goods.


My picks for this year’s key players are LG (smart kitchen gadgets, smart home main gate access, and the virtual fashion fitting room), Samsung (Ballie robot, an assistive device for people with disabilities, and Rotatable TV), and Sony (Vision-S Car).


Samsung Ballie Robot, photo credit CES®



5. How did Whipsaw contribute to CES this year?


Whipsaw has had a profound influence on the consumer electronic industry for the last 20 years and we push to continue that tradition each day. Some hot examples in the past included Dropcam Nest cameras, Google hardware products such as Chromecast, Roku devices, Samsung appliances, Linksys and TP-Link networking products, Nike FuelBand, Livescribe pens, Eton radios and more.  This year at CES, we helped many new startup clients usher their products to market, as well as helping older clients such as Samsung, TCL, and TP-Link.

We had an impact at the show itself, on the roads, and in the casinos as well. Our new Uber Beacon dash-mounted system was in almost every Uber car in Las Vegas, and our new Aristocrat MarsX and EdgeX gaming machines were wowing players everywhere.


Whipsaw contributed new products for TP-Link’s suite of new devices, the Tile Sticker and new product lines, the Shine bathroom which was unveiled in Eureka hall, and many current clients on the hunt for new retail channels or those simply attending the convention, such as Josh, Eton, Homedics, e-Tech, Haier and Intops.


Whipsaw’s design of the TP-Link Deco X90 and the Tile Sticker won CES Innovation awards this year. The TP-Link booth was also filled with six Whipsaw-designed routers and cameras.


TP-Link Deco X90
Tile Sticker