CES 2021: Sony, NAGRA, Dolby, Technicolor All Make Noise

The first-ever all-digital CES opened with more than 1,900 exhibitors and 100-plus conference sessions, offering virtual attendees around the world both the latest tech news announcements and educational opportunities, without the annual trek to Las Vegas.

“The pandemic forced us to take a step back from a traditional CES, throw out the playbook and transform how we’d bring the tech community together,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), in a press release. “CES looks different this year, but the foundation of the show — innovation, connection, collaboration — remains strong and consistent. The digital transformation will continue for years, even as we return to Las Vegas in 2022. We have seen the value of connecting digitally and we can welcome even more people from around the world.”

Along with the annual hardware unveilings from the likes of Panasonic, Samsung, Philips, LG and TCL, several MESA members opened the show with major announcements of their own:


Sony came out with a slew of announcements covering all corners of M&E, including virtual production tools with volumetric real-world capture, allowing sets and locations for productions to be captured as 3D volumetric point cloud data, before being processed and rendered by Sony Innovation Studios’ “Atom View” software, and then displayed as background images on LED displays for real-time, virtual production.

Sony also debuted the “Madison Beer Immersive Reality Concert Experience” with real-time 3D creation technology, partnering with artist Madison Beer and Verizon to create an immersive music showcase that “reimagines the concert performance experience for viewing across digital platforms,” in a nod to live-event constraints for fans during the pandemic.

Along with new 360-degree reality audio music production tools, video production support services with Xperia 5 II, new Spatial Reality, BRAVIA XR and crystal LED displays, and an update on the PlayStation 5 console, Sony debuted Airpeak, an AI-powered drone that’s equipped with Sony’s Alpha full-frame mirrorless camera to enable video production creators who are drone-certified.

“With Sony’s technology, creativity has no limits,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, chairman, president and CEO of Sony Corp.


André Kudelski, chairman and CEO of the Kudelski Group, parent company of NAGRA, is set to speak on not one, but two panels during CES.

André Kudelski will first share his insights during a one-on-one interview with Variety NY digital editor Todd Spangler in the Jan. 14 session “Key Technology and Innovation Trends”. Later that day he’ll join the “Tech Heroes of the Pandemic” panel moderated by Variety Artisans editor Jazz Tangcay.

“The M&E space is being fundamentally transformed by the COVID crisis,” Kudelski said. “At the same time, appetite for media and content has never been greater. How do we, as an industry, address these shifts, and more importantly, how do we seize the opportunities they present to transform them into realities and future growth? What are new areas that need to be addressed and considered as media consumption evolves? In a nutshell, how can we reimagine entertainment in a meaningful way in the post-COVID world? I look forward to discussing these topics and more at the Variety Entertainment Summit.”

NAGRA also announced during CES that Korean broadband internet access provider SK Broadband has chosen its forensic watermarking technology for use in IPTV set-top boxes, enabling SK to protect premium content by identifying content leaks and tracing them back to the set-top box of origin.

“We selected NAGRA’s forensic watermarking solution for set-top boxes because it enables us to meet content owner requirements for the protection of premium content, including 4K, and insert an invisible watermark without affecting video quality,” said SangBum Lee, VP of SK Broadband. “What’s more, NAGRA’s local presence along with their proximity to the studios through their Los Angeles-based teams, were all strong considerations in our selection.”

Stéphane Le Dréau, SVP of APAC sales for NAGRA, added: “With the increased availability of premium 4K content also comes increased risk for piracy and content leaks which tempers content owners’ willingness to deliver premium content into the market. NAGRA’s NexGuard forensic watermarking solution is a leading product in the fight against piracy and we welcome SK Broadband into this active anti-piracy community.”


Dolby announced that its Dolby Voice technology — which aims to improve the quality of conference calls, by reducing background noise and make meetings less distracting — would be included in two Lenovo laptops, including the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 and X1 Yoga Gen 6.

Dolby also received a lift, when Panasonic announced a new proof-of-concept immersive sound technology for vehicles featuring Dolby Atmos Music.

“Panasonic Automotive has built a reputation pushing the boundaries of in-vehicle entertainment,” said Tom Dunn, director of Panasonic Global Premium Audio. “Our award-winning automotive audio systems are recognized for creating unforgettable listening experiences based on engineering, artistry and emotion. Market leading innovations are what drive the technical teams at Panasonic and Klipsch, and delivering our first in-vehicle demonstration of Dolby Atmos music reflects our aligned goals and commitment to achieving a higher standard of music enjoyment.”


Technicolor Connected Home executives used CES to share their thoughts on programmatic advertising, and how it’s emerging as a major expansion opportunity for pay TV providers this year.

“NSPs have been exploring ways to leverage the analytics of enhanced user engagement to stimulate new monetization strategies to address the implications of the post cord-cutter market,” said Christian Lefebvre, SVP of global via customer premises equipment (CPE) video at Technicolor Connected Home.

“Several countries have recently made changes on the regulatory front that open up opportunities for advertising within the NSP ecosystem,” Lefebvre added. “In August of 2020, for instance, France changed regulations authorizing network operators to distribute video which is an immense development. Additionally, technological advances now enable NSPs to leverage open, intelligent gateways and set-top boxes to deploy highly targeted advertising to consumers in a non-intrusive manner.”

Cyril Daoud, CEO of business and technology platform provider Hoppr, added: “Targeted advertising that leverages CPE in the home without interrupting the viewing experience is materializing as an attractive means for pay TV operators to reclaim lost revenues with minimal CAPEX spending.

“In addition, many of these ad-tech solutions require CAPEX investments and/or a dedicated content delivery network which require resources and maintenance to support dedicated advertising servers.”