The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) has announced that CES 2021 will not take place as an in-person event. Instead, the annual technology showcase -- which usually attracts thousands of attendees to Las Vegas each January -- will shift to an all-virtual format amid ongoing coronavirus uncertainty.
The decision marks a significant reversal for the CTA, which up until a week ago had insisted that the event would still take place in the usual physical format. Now, CTA chief executive Gary Shapiro says that safety concerns have made the in-person event logistically impossible.
"Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it's just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person," Shapiro said in a statement.
"Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic – and that innovation will also help us reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way," he continued. "By shifting to an all-digital platform for 2021, we can deliver a unique experience that helps our exhibitors connect with existing and new audiences."
Coronavirus has significantly disrupted the technology industry's related annual events so far this year. Dozens of technology companies were forced to alter their event schedules, shift to digital formats, or cancel conferences all together.
CES 2020 went off as usual earlier this year, but the event would be one of the last major in-person conferences before the pandemic effectively ended these types of industry gatherings.
Looking ahead, the CTA says that CES 2021 will be a new immersive experience, where attendees can sign up for personalized tracks and brands and startups can launch products via live demos. Keynotes and panel discussions will be live streamed as usual.
CES will return to a physical format in 2022.