Without most of its high-wattage stars and facing escalating criticism for its decision to press on despite a record surge in COVID cases, CES 2022 officially starts Wednesday.

Just days after an estimated crowd of 300,000 jammed into Las Vegas for a New Year’s Eve fireworks show, tens of thousands of members of the tech industry descended on the Strip. (In an admission to the threat of omicron, show organizers Consumer Technology Association late Friday announced the four-day show had been shaved to three days, Wednesday through Friday. Saturday is typically moving day.)

Intel Corp. INTC, -0.13%, Nvidia Corp. NVDA, -2.76%, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. AMD, -3.87%, all of whom passed on attending in person, did make announcements remotely on Tuesday:

AMD shows off $200 graphics card and new chips in CES presentation, stock falls

Nvidia reveals $249 gaming card, as well as a ‘BFGPU,’ at CES 2022

Intel focuses on autonomous driving, gaming and laptop chips at CES 2022

Despite more than 150 companies — including many of the biggest names in tech — choosing to opt out of in-person appearances, the show goes on. Indeed, some jittery attendees might want to stop by and visit one of several exhibitors with anti-COVID technology.

“We expect a lot of interest,” Mark Lyle, co-founder and chief technology officer at LumixUV, developer of robotic disinfection technology for point-of-sales terminals at retail stores, gas stations, and airport kiosks, told MarketWatch.

The technology uses high-powered UV-C LED lights (ultraviolet) to pass over the POS terminal system and disinfect at a level comparable to Lysol or alcohol, without the risk of damaging the terminal while applying liquid disinfectants.

Ironically, the outbreak of omicron could prove to be fortuitous for LumixUV, a Florida-based company that doesn’t have nearly the exposure to investors that startups in California and New York enjoy. “(CES) is important for us,” Lyle said, “though the show is a lot less busy than normal. At the hotel, a staff member saw my show badge and said, ‘Wow, is CES still on?’”

Chip maker Piera Systems, developer of an air-quality sensor powered by a newly designed custom chip, believes it has the world’s most accurate low-cost particle sensor to ensure clean air, says Piera CEO Vin Ratford. He told MarketWatch the Canadian company was to be part of an Ontario government pavilion at CES, until the provincial government pulled out of the show for health and safety reasons.

Meanwhile, 3Oe Scientific is demonstrating at CES a water-cooler-sized device called Iggy where users at schools, office buildings, factories and sports venues can insert their hands and have them sprayed with aqueous ozone to kill viruses and bacteria. The process takes seven seconds.

“It is reimaging how you wash hands,” CEO Tom Foust told MarketWatch. The company is seeking FDA approval.

However, the safest option is attending the show virtually. For the first time, Web Summit has licensed its proprietary software, Summit Engine, to CES organizers so attendees can access keynote speeches, panels and video meetings at the show from the comfort of their laptops and smartphones. Indeed, the approach may be a harbinger for hybrid tech shows to come.

“The future of tech conferences is a bit of both: You can attend virtually and in person,” Paddy Cosgrove, CEO of Web Summit, told MarketWatch via a Zoom ZM, -2.39% call. He had planned to go Las Vegas but considered it “reckless” to attend in person.

“CTA has made the best of a challenging situation,” Cosgrove said. “We noticed changes in user behavior during our [tech] show in November [in Portugal]. More people are attending shows virtually in the morning, then going in person for meetings. It is like work and most everything else these days.”

CTA CEO Gary Shapiro has steadfastly defended the decision to put on a mega-event in the teeth of a raging pandemic. In a Facebook message to this reporter last month, he offered various percentages on the unlikelihood of a CES attendee getting sick at the show if fully vaccinated.

The show, which was virtual a year ago, has taken several precautions, including requiring proof-of-vaccination cards and masks to attend indoor exhibits, socially-distanced venues, hand-sanitation stations and on-site testing.

Despite the in-person absence of nearly every major tech vendor, the show semi-kicked off Tuesday night with a keynote address by Jong-Hee (JH) Han, vice chairman and CEO of Samsung Electronics 005930, -2.29%, one of the few companies to have a physical presence at the show. Among those that aren’t: Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm Inc. QCOM, +0.55%, International Business Machines Corp. IBM, +1.46%, Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, -0.41% GOOG, -0.45%, Meta Platforms Inc. FB, -0.59%, Microsoft Corp. MSFT, -1.71%, HP Inc. HPQ, +3.10%, Peloton Interactive Inc. PTON, -3.92%, BMW, Lenovo Group Ltd. 992, +1.68%, AT&T Inc. T, +0.83%, Procter & Gamble Co. PG, +0.35%, and Panasonic Corp. 6752, +1.25%.

Samsung Electronics did scale back its on-site contingent. A number of company representatives changed their travel plans at the last minute, and did not make the trip to CES.

Source: This post first appeared on http://marketwatch.com/

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