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Leadership picks from CES: Innovations to watch in 2023

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We asked three Unilever leaders who attended this year’s Consumer Electronics Show to tell us which tech trends and innovations made them sit up and take notice.

Floor of Consumer Electronics Show 2023 in Las Vegas, with banner image with words ‘We are CES ready’

There are some trade shows that innovators just can’t miss. And the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is one of them.

The annual January showcase has been called the most influential tech event in the world, and this year more than 100,000 attendees and 3,200 exhibitors turned up to prove it.

We asked three Unilever leaders who attended the event to tell us which tech trends and innovations caught their eye and will shape their business thinking in 2023.

Vasiliki Petrou, CEO, Unilever Prestige

Vasiliki Petrou, CEO, Unilever Prestige

CES is a true cornucopia of next-level innovation. While there is so much to see, absorb and be inspired by, I left with three points that will remain my guiding focus for the year ahead.

  • The increasingly vital role that ‘experiential’ will play in retail moments – this has gone from being a rarity to a no-miss for brands to stand out in cluttered markets.
  • Sensorial immersion has become a non-negotiable in brand experiences. It is key to activating and delighting all the senses through both virtual and human means to enhance experiences and make them unforgettable.
  • It’s worth noting how key it is to build and nurture communities of fans, influencers and creators – placing the upmost importance on your immediate and wider communities from micro to macro, internal to external.

Tech picks Wearables for wellness.

The convergence of industries as they move into new white spaces will continue to grow this year. Wellness is crossing over into beauty, health and devices, which is opening a world of new and exciting opportunities.

For example, once wearables were simply devices to monitor your step count, but thanks to AI and sensors that can activity track, they are increasingly capable of using data to give actionable suggestions to improve people’s overall wellbeing.

I loved finding out about Movano Health’s Evie smart ring tracker which is optimised for women’s health. It measures heart rate and blood oxygen levels that can help users understand patterns in sleep and even menstruation. Another timely development was the Nowatch, which doesn’t use time to keep you on schedule but instead delivers gentle vibrations based on readings of heart rate, sweat, physical movement and sleep patterns to improve a wearer’s mood and stress levels.

Sukru Dincer, Global VP, Digital & Sustainable Choices

Sukru Dincer, Global VP Digital & Sustainable Choices, taking a selfie in the exhibitors hall at CES in Las Vegas

It was a great inspiration to attend CES 2023 with the Unilever team. For me, three key observations were:

  • Perhaps as a result of Covid, we are seeing an increasing focus on personalised health/nutrition solutions.
  • The progress in data/digital across all touchpoints is paving the way to even smarter home appliances which are more precise and allowing better control.
  • Delivering on sustainability is the next big thing. There is a strong focus on energy/water-saving solutions and carbon-footprint reduction, from in-home appliances to next-generation automobiles.

Tech picks Sustainable in-home and portable energy solutions, plus toilet tech that provides health scans.

Schneider Electric unveiled its Schneider Home Energy Tracking Solution which allows home-owners to monitor energy consumption by individual appliance and decide where to prioritise power during an outage via an app. Out-of-home Californian firm Jackery showcased a selection of portable devices that make generating renewable energy easy and possible for individuals. Its Air-W is a portable mini wind turbine that can produce 200W of power, while LightCycle-S1 is a wheeled battery that can store up to 3,500Wh of electricity and offer 3,500W of power.

In the personalised healthcare space, a Wi-Fi-enabled toilet from Withings caused quite a stir at the show. It has two types of replaceable cartridges to track different functions such as menstrual cycles and ovulation or nutrition and hydration and uses a ‘stream ID’ to identify different people. When the test is done, data goes to a companion app where you can go through all its findings.

Dallia Herrtage, Global Partnerships & Innovation Lead & Nutrition Head of Media

Dallia Herrtage, Global Partnerships & Innovation Lead & Nutrition Head of Media

I love this phase just after my return from CES 2023 when I get to go through all my notes and start considering what it all means and how you can action it. This year, the three stand-out themes for me were…

  • Health & Wellness. We saw a wealth of technology designed to improve health and wellbeing. Smart products including mirrors, toilets and pillows that use biometric data to monitor the body and provide suggestions. Much of this has been seen before, but at CES 2023 we saw the connection between personal bio-data and the environment the person was in, particularly the home. The AARP (an organisation aimed at meeting the needs of retirees) had a huge space at the conference. It was interesting to see the breadth of technologies designed to help the over-50s audience live well.
  • Sustainability. The theme of sustainability was seen everywhere and across many verticals. It seems that we are at an important moment in time where consumer awareness of climate change and the desire to make more sustainable decisions is meeting macroeconomic drivers. Rising costs across energy and goods mean that consumers are looking for ways to reduce waste and therefore cost, and we saw many exhibitors with smart home solutions to reduce food, water and energy waste uniting practical and ethical motivations.
  • Metaverse/Web3. This was a hot area with a lot of floor space devoted to gaming, Web 3.0 and the metaverse. We saw a lot of incredible VR/AR applications, impressive screens, connected experiences, and meaningful steps in its evolution and growth.

Tech picks Immersive gaming tech and sustainable food solutions to cut back on waste.

Dolby.io is a new developer platform by Dolby Labs that puts Dolby sight and sound technology into hands of developers. I was impressed by the quality and sensory elements of the virtual experiences that can be created.

It was also great to see Sony showcase Project Leonardo and improve accessibility in the gaming space through its adaptable controller for the PlayStation which allows users with limited motor control “to craft their own play experience”.

In the food tech space, I really loved Kaltech’s ‘Food Fresh Keeper’. This smart preservation box prevents bread and fruit from getting mouldy or rotten outside a refrigerator and could play huge role in eliminating food waste.


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