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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opened its doors yesterday (Jan. 6) spanning the largest exhibit floor in the show’s 49-year history, with 2.4 million net square feet of exhibit space and featuring more than 3,600 companies, including a record 500 startups. The tech fest will draw more than 150K attendees from 150 countries.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association said:

“CES kicks off today as the global platform where emerging technology meets the marketplace. I’m like a kid in a candy store this week, surrounded by mind-blowing innovation that is truly improving the human experience. From robotics, 3D printing and unmanned systems to automotive tech, wearables and beyond, our world is changing as technology connects us all and works to solve the impossible. It is incredible we get to bring together so many industry visionaries, influencers and entrepreneurs this week at CES to showcase how tech is changing the world. The energy in Las Vegas right now is palpable.”

Companies big and small use CES to introduce the latest innovation to the global market. This week will see some 20,000 products launched. From tech powerhouses to innovative startups, companies with the innovation of the future are at CES. Exhibitors launch and feature products from all facets of tech, from automotive and wireless to up-and-coming categories like 3D printing, drones and sensor technology.

The first CES took place in New York City in 1967, with 250 exhibitors and 17,500 attendees. Just a few of the major trends and innovations that have made a splash at CES over the years include the VCR (1970), Compact Disc (1991), Satellite Radio (2000), Microsoft Xbox & Plasma TV (2002), Tablets (2010), Ultra HDTV (2013), and Virtual Reality (2015).

Here are a few highlights from the first official day of CES 2016:

VIRTUAL REALITY:

“Virtual is the new reality.” Virtual reality as previously only seen in science fiction movies is becoming a reality at CES 2016. Projected U.S. revenues for this category are anticipated to grow by 440 percent, to reach $540 million in 2016 (CTA Research).

The ‘Gaming, Comics, Hollywood, Internet and Brands’ conference session discussed how gaming is a cross-platform phenomenon. The look and feel of the gaming industry, born in comic books, are re-imagined in blockbusters like Iron Man, Superman and Spiderman.

Virtual Reality (VR) might seem inextricably linked to gaming, but the technology actually has many practical applications including education, healthcare, sports, retail and entertainment. Attendees learned about real-world examples of how and where VR is being used to make a difference.

Ira Rubenstein, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Public Broadcasting Service moderated the ‘Hollywood and the Digital Consumer’ conference. For Hollywood, the opportunities around content are golden. The session explored how the creative and technology communities will respond to a fully realized on demand world of television, Internet, film and gaming.

Razer launched the Razer Blade Stealth Ultrabook and Razer Core. Razer Blade is the world’s thinnest gaming laptop .. and the most powerful laptop in the world in terms of power per cubic inch.

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AUTOMOTIVE:

The Chevrolet Bolt Electric Vehicle (EV) was unveiled and is the first auto brand to work with Facebook to debut a vehicle using Facebook Live. With the addition of the Bolt EV to a lineup that includes the all-new 2016 Volt, 2016 Malibu Hybrid and Spark EV, Chevrolet will offer consumers more affordable, electrified vehicle options than any other major automotive brand – solidifying its position as the leader in electrification.

The Bolt EV is a game-changing, long-range electric vehicle. Not only will it deliver more than a GM-estimated 200 miles of range, it will break the affordability barrier with a price below $30,000 after full Federal tax credits.

The Bolt EV will also offer connectivity and infotainment technologies seamlessly integrating smartphones and other electronic devices important to today’s consumers.

Chevrolet’s four million Facebook fans were given the opportunity to be the first to experience the new Bolt EV – with both a live video of the debut as well as an immersive 360-degree interior video experience.

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General Motors’ (GM) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra delivered the event’s keynote speech. (Photo Credit: Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

Today’s vehicles, and the auto industry, are being re-envisioned and re-invented. Cars are quickly moving from stand-alone mechanical products, to smart electronic products, to connected-smart-products, fueling autonomous driving and integration of automotive and consumer electronics into the Internet of Things.

AUDIO & VIDEO:

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The world’s leading Internet television network, Netflix, announced that its service is now available in more than 190 countries. The company made the announcement — and the service went live — during a keynote by Co-founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings at CES 2016.

Hastings said:

“Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network. With this launch, consumers around the world — from Singapore to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo — will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously — no more waiting. With the help of the Internet, we are putting power in consumers’ hands to watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device.”

Netflix is available on virtually any device that has an Internet connection, including personal computers, tablets, smartphones, Smart TVs and game consoles, and automatically provides the best possible streaming quality based on available bandwidth.

While largely available in English in most new countries, Netflix today added Arabic, Korean, Simplified and Traditional Chinese to the 17 languages it already supports.

Hastings continued:

“From today onwards, we will listen and we will learn, gradually adding more languages, more content and more ways for people to engage with Netflix. We’re looking forward to bringing great stories from all over the world to people all over the world.”

In 2016, the company plans to release 31 new and returning original series, two dozen original feature films and documentaries, a wide range of stand-up comedy specials and 30 original kids series — available at the same time to members everywhere.

CES 2016 runs through Saturday, January 9, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

For the latest CES 2016 news and updates, visit CESweb.org.