CES heads east, with inaugural event in Shanghai

CES Asia

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) - the world's largest consumer technology trade show held in Las Vegas each year - launched its inaugural Asian event in Shanghai on Monday.

CES Asia, which spans three days from May 25-27, is aimed at helping global brands tap into the Asian consumer market and domestic brands extend their international reach.

"Shanghai is the city of the future, China has phenomenal potential. Everyone from major car companies to wearable device companies is here, and they are excited to be here," Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association, which produces CES, told CNBC.

By hosting a show in Shanghai, it's an opportunity to recognize that the Asian market is different from the U.S., he said.

Read MoreRecord-breaking number of Chinese firms at CES

The event, which focuses on three major themes - connectivity, innovation and the Internet of Things, features some 250 exhibitors - a small fraction of 52,000 exhibitors present at the Las Vegas show earlier this year.

"We restricted who can exhibit. It's something that's curated. You have to be an innovative company or have a recognized brand," he said.

German luxury automaker Audi kicked off the event with the unveiling of its latest electric, self-driving concept car, the R8 e-tron.

Attendees were invited to ride in the car that is equipped with a vast array of sensors enabling it to navigate roads without direct input from a driver.

Read MoreWearables, 3D printers, and virtual reality dominate CES

"The Audi R8 e-tron piloted driving represents the technology trends of our industry," said Audi CEO, Rupert Stadler, as quoted by car website Auto Express.

R8 e-tron is the company's third autonomous concept vehicle following experiments with the RS7 and A7, according to the website.

Aside from the latest in auto technology, exhibitors will represent 14 product categories including 3D printing, green technologies, robotics, smart home, sports and fitness, video/4K Ultra HD, video gaming and wearables.

Approximately 25,000 people, made up of industry executives, international buyers, media and consumers from China, were pre-registered for the event.

"We're thrilled that a large number – 40 percent of the 25,000 that are pre-registered are from outside of China," he said.