Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: CES 2021: The Big Trends for Business

CES 2021: Lenovo says tech transportability is key for hybrid work environments

As more people continue to split time between working at home and in the office.

At CES 2021, companies across the board have unveiled technologies that fall into the buckets of 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and augmented reality, but according to Lenovo senior vice president of commercial business Christian Teismann, these technologies will need to be developed to fulfil the needs of the next "new normal" for when the pandemic passes.

Teismann predicts this new normal will consist of more hybrid work environments. 

"I believe a lot of people that have not worked remotely, or have not been educated remotely, or that have not as a family communicated remotely that much over video have realised that this has a big impact on the positive side for personal productivity and the way they can operate so I think a lot of this will remain even in an environment where it is safe to meet again," Teismann told ZDNet.

According to Teismann, hybrid work environments will need technology that is transportable as he expects this new normal will require people to have various workplaces, but not necessarily force them to be "mobile". He gave an example of how more people are working at one location for one week and then working elsewhere on a different week rather than moving around throughout the day. 

"What we've seen in the recent environment is that there is a significant difference between mobility and transportability and what I mean: Transportability is that people need to be able to change their workplace based on a specific situation," he said. 

With this hybrid work environment backdrop, Lenovo expects the desktop in its traditional form factor to become less prominent as demand shifts towards devices that are more transportable, such as compact desktops, multi-function laptops and tablets, and compact IoT devices. 

To address this shift, for Lenovo at least, this has meant developing devices that have a small form factor while still providing "full performance, full connectivity, and full security". Specifically, Teismann said the devices announced by Lenovo at CES this year were designed to be easy to use regardless of the place of work. 

Across Lenovo's offerings announced at CES 2021, Lenovo re-introduced a ThinkPad detachable device to its lineup, added the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga, which it has touted as being its thinnest convertible laptop ever, and also unveiled various other 2-in-1 and all-in-one laptops and desktops.

This need for ease of use and sufficiency was also a big motivator behind Lenovo's decision to enter the smart glasses market with its ThinkReality A3 smart glasses, Teismann touted.

"You need to have devices that you would like to wear that, ultimately, while you're wearing them you forget you're wearing a device. That's really the biggest challenge that we've seen so far and that's why I believe it has not had a breakthrough moment that I believe is to come now," he said.

Due to this, Lenovo designed the glasses in two models, the PC edition and the industrial edition, with the former being able to be tethered to a PC and the latter having the capacity to be tethered to a Motorola flagship smartphone.  

When the A3 smart glasses were unveiled earlier this week, Lenovo also said the glasses were designed with flexibility in mind so it could be "immersive but not isolating", with the industrial edition of the glasses allowing for work to be performed in factory floors, labs, as well as retail and hospitality spaces.

Moving forward, Lenovo said it will focus on creating more seamless connectivity between devices so it is easier to transfer work from one device to another, such as when users need to move from a big screen to smaller screen.