Wednesday 26 January 2022

Start-ups demonstrate promising innovations applicable to rail at CES® 2022

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The 2022 edition of CES®, held in Las Vegas at the beginning of January, showcased the latest trends and innovations in electronics, software, and artificial intelligence, with around 4,400 booths and hybrid conferences.

Europe had its own pavilion at CES 2022, with France holding the largest exhibition space featuring 140 start-ups in the green tech, blockchain and fintech industries. Global funding for start-ups increased by 105% between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021, providing them with the means to fulfil their ambitions at a time when technology demand remains strong worldwide. The current key funding sectors are retail tech, fintech and healthcare.

Although neither public transport nor the railways were a focus of the event, UIC Railway System Director Christian Chavanel and UIC Senior Digital Advisor Francis Bédel paid close attention to the various exhibitions to seek out innovations with the potential to change the future of the railways.

CES 2022 trends

Steve Koenig, VP, Research at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), opened the event with details of the biggest trends to follow at CES 2022: the growing contribution of 5G, increased cloud infrastructure, deeper AI innovation, the possible expansion of the metaverse, and the enterprise experience (immersive design, digital twins, marketing and sales).

The core values of the railway sector were among the CES 2022 top trends to watch, namely in transport and sustainable technology. Discussions revolved around electric vehicles, smart mobility (Luminar, LiDAR), urban mobility (bikes) and 21st-century logistics (self-driving freight trucks).

CES 2022 Awards

Wearable technologies made a strong impression at the CES 2022 Awards: two pairs of connected glasses offered a direct connection to the metaverse or meeting applications (Zoom, Teams, etc.). Another innovation from among the award winners featured AI-driven diagnostics and a vision augmentation technology platform running on wearable devices.

Wearables benefit from another leap forward in technology demonstrated at the show: the first next-generation flat cable, which combines the advantages of wire cables and flexible printed circuit boards (PCBs) and can be implemented in both electric vehicles and wearables.

A number of health and safety innovations could also be applied in the railway sector: eye-tracking and driver sensing (for train drivers), a health and human services (HHS) bio-signal processing module that measures the status of personnel at industrial sites in real time, and a hip protection airbag (for work on overhead lines). Other ventilation products and human vital sign sensors could help assuage customers’ fear of taking the train after the pandemic with the promise of accurately controlling airflow.

The event brought to light persistent sustainability and health concerns driven by the pandemic – and delivered solutions that the railway sector is invested in.

Technical innovations to watch out for

On the technical side, drop free glass (DFG) is the world’s first electronic self-cleaning technology for optical sensors, and onsemi’s AR0820AT, a digital image sensor for obstacle detection, could aid in the development of ATO.

A number of exhibitors stood out for UIC’s rail experts outside of the awards: Perfect Memory, a French startup specialising in knowledge graphs, Silentium, a company selling automotive active acoustics to create bubbles of silence in cars (a technology which could be adapted to trains) and the new MOTOV technology, an edge AI rooftop device to count people in crowded areas in real time.

Mobility – specifically smart mobility – is becoming one of the key themes at CES Las Vegas. Given their key role in the mobility chain, the railways need to find their rightful place. This may be a challenge for UIC in the coming year.

For further information please contact Christian Chavanel, UIC Rail System Department Director at

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