The biggest recent development in the Las Vegas business scene will converge with the largest convention in the city this week when Faraday Future takes the wraps off of its concept car at CES.
The Chinese-backed electric car company, which in December received a $335 million incentive package to build a $1 billion manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas, will be the center of attention tonight during the introduction of its vehicle. The enigmatic company is expected to detail its ambitious plan to build a car that can compete with Tesla and the handful of companies wading into the race to mass-market electric cars.
The Faraday Future presentation is among the most highly anticipated moments of the convention, which is expected to draw 165,000 attendees and will be spread across a record 2.4 million square feet of space.
This year, the technology show — which begins today with two days of preview events before the three-day general convention begins Wednesday — is branching out to include a dedicated location at Aria for Hollywood and the content community, said Allison Fried, a spokesperson for the show’s organizer, the Consumer Technology Association. It’s an industry that has drawn thousands of attendees in the past. Speakers include executives at YouTube and Netflix.
“CES in general is moving away from a handful of large hardware announcements that anchor the year to more of a place where people from the industry come to talk about the year ahead,” said Lindsey Turrentine, the editor in chief of CNET who has attended the show for 10 years.
Trends to watch:
Virtual reality: There are a handful of headsets coming to market in the coming months, Turrentine notes, and it’s likely there will be several demonstrations as a diverse and growing number of industries — media, health care, entertainment — see ways to apply virtual reality. In health care, for instance, the technology is seen as a cost-effective training tool for health care professionals. Some developers even see applications in clinical settings, using VR to treat patients with post-traumatic stress disorder with controlled environments that bring patients into contact with stress-reducing stimuli.
Internet of things: Technology is everywhere and in everything. Few items — “things” — are untethered from the Internet. Turrentine expects this to be one of the major themes of CES this year. So expect displays about smart homes with thermostats that learn homeowners' daily routines to better conserve energy; clothing embedded with sensors that detect temperature, light or heart rates; and cars that communicate with houses so that when a driver is close, the garage door opens and the alarm shuts off automatically.
Tomorrow’s cars: Several car companies, new entrants to the market and legacy firms, plan to discuss the future of their products...without a consumer at the wheel. Ford plans to discuss automation. Toyota will discuss artificial intelligence. Volkswagen will discuss an electric car. And then there'sFaraday Future, which plans to integrate an industry-leading amount of technology into its vehicle and change the ownership structure for cars .
“We believe the automotive experience should integrate seamlessly with the rest of your life,” the company says on its website. The company has been vague on the details and many are looking to the unveiling of their concept car for more details.
There is a lineup of keynotes from several large companies. The show will kickoff Tuesday with a keynote from Intel’s chief executive. Top managers from General Motors, Netflix, IBM, YouTube, Samsung, AT&T, NBCUniversal and JP Morgan Chase will also address the show.
As technology becomes more pervasive in daily life and the tech community battles regulation on a number of fronts in a number of areas, expect dozens of regulators and policymakers to attend. Some are even scheduled to speak. That list includes U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Federal Aviation Administration Director Michael Huerta and every member of the federal communications and trade commissions, the director of the federal patent office and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.
Several entertainers and athletes will also be involved in the show’s programming. They include radio and TV host Ryan Seacrest, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, NBA MVPs Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, and the most-decorated Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps.
As the largest convention that comes through Las Vegas, CES is expected to generate $139.6 million in direct visitor spending, with attendees from about 150 countries flocking to The Strip.
Programming for the show stretches across The Strip area, with space at Aria, the Venetian, Encore, Wynn Las Vegas, Sands Expo, Westgate Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention Center. According to the travel-booking site Vegas.com, visitors at CES stay an average of two or three nights and most travelers book their hotel stays only three to 14 days in advance.
Given the convention's size, organizing starts weeks before the show.
It’s a long process to get the convention set up for nearly 4,000 companies and that undertaking began this year in mid-December, according to a Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
The Las Vegas tech community also has planned some events around CES. Tech.Co, a publication backed by the Downtown Project, will host a Startup Night in collaboration with CES on Tuesday night at The Gold Spike bar. And the Xtreme Drone Circuit, another Downtown Project venture, will host a drone race at Zappos headquarters on Saturday.
Late registration for the show, which includes a $300 fee, will continue through the conference. CES features on-site registration. Without the late fee, passes range from $800 to $1,700.