Smart Home

CNET's Next Big Thing: Will our homes remain our headquarters?

The biggest overall question at CES 2021 is whether tech can make the case that we keep doing almost everything from home.

This story is part of CES, where CNET covers the latest news on the most incredible tech coming soon.

Everything came home in 2020. For me, the biggest question at CES 2021 will be how much of it stays there.

It's more than an idle curiosity: Millions of consumers and thousands of companies spent a lot of money, time and energy orienting everything toward the home -- with a viral gun to our heads. Now it's time to take a breath and examine how much of that shift has enduring value as opposed to just survival value. Every false step we take back to the way things were in work, education, health, commerce and entertainment could be a waste of hard-won progress that would have taken years in normal times.

Telehealth adoption 2020

Few at-home trends combined scale, change, and social importance as much as the move toward telehealth in 2020.

Parks Associates

To pick apart where at-home behavior works and where it doesn't, I assembled three of the smartest people in tech to sort this out in CNET's Next Big Thing presentation at CES 2021: Jennifer Kent, senior director at Parks Associates, Paul Lee, global head of Research, Tech, Media and Telecoms at Deloitte UK, and Megan Wollerton, senior editor, CNET Home

CNET Next Big Thing 2021 panelists

Some of their takeaways you'll hear:

  • There is no replacement for people living and working face-to-face when it comes to seeing what technology others are using and wanting it. This is key for consumer electronics marketers.
  • The at-home shift may not necessarily supercharge the volume of smart home adoption as much as the composition of it, moving households that already have smart home tech to embrace different forms of it.
  • At-home schooling will remain a tough nut to crack and may experience the most snapback to the way things were as health policies allow. Schooling often feels substandard at home, and one task too many alongside parents' daytime work.
  • Telehealth may be the biggest single winner to come out of 2020's experimentations, but it still badly needs a bridge between telehealth consultations and the personal health signals that CE devices are gathering but that physicians often aren't seeing -- or trusting. 
CNET Next Big Thing 2021 logo

Watch the video on this page for a lively and genuine conversation with these three experts on "CNET's The Next Big Thing: Will Tech Keep Home the Best Headquarters?".