Perhaps you’ve heard of CES in Las Vegas, but halfway around the world, in Berlin, Germany, there’s another tech trade show with lots to see.
“This is actually the 99th year of IFA Berlin,” said Oliver Merlin, managing director for this year’s show.
Show organizers brought me to Berlin to experience IFA’s rich mix of history and cutting-edge innovation.
“IFA is Berlin and Berlin is IFA,” said Merlin.
The show is sprawling: 130,000 square meters to see spread across 26 different halls.
It’s almost tricky to describe. Think the biggest Best Buy you’ve ever seen, mixed with somewhat of a carnival atmosphere. Yep, there are pretzels and beer.
There are brands from all over the globe, some were recognizable, and others were new to me.
“In the United States we tend to think the United States is the center of the universe, and at this show you see lots and lots of products that may not be available in the United States,” said Mark Vena, principal analyst with SmartTech Research and host of the SmartTechCheck Podcast.
The show featured a “House of Robots” with a bartending robot being developed in Estonia named Yanu.
“I think right now there is a tech revolution definitely going on, robots are taking over the jobs that are difficult or demanding,” said Alan Adojaan of Yanu Robotics.
There were also a ton of home appliances, giant TV’s and accessories galore. Keep in mind many of us will be swapping to a new USB-C charging cable for the iPhone later this month.
“Apple may not be here in person, but their presence is very strongly felt,” said Vena.
Two key trends at this year’s show. The first is AI.
The second: sustainability. We’re keeping gadgets longer and companies are putting an emphasis on repairability and recycled materials.
“Whenever you can take an old material and make it into a new product, you’re creating a longer lifetime expansion for it… which of course is what sustainability is all about,” said Jeanette Schjoth-Eskesen of PanzerGlass.
A show this vast makes you realize the impact these innovations have on a worldwide scale.
“You can spend two days out here and not see everything, that’s how big this show is,” quipped Vena.
One big difference between CES Las Vegas and IFA Berlin? The public can attend IFA, which means the show attracts upwards of 180,000 visitors from all over 130 countries.