As a long-time CES attendee, I am accustomed to impossible cab lines, waiting 30 minutes to get a bus between Sands and LVCC, running for meetings while imagining I am a football running back weaving through the defense. The list of CES issues could go on and on. Any of you that have been to CES get it. It is a disaster. Yet, we all go back year after year.
But this year, most everyone said no way, I am not going. Yet I thought, “hey, why not try to go. It might be fascinating.” And in that tradition of "wow, the holiday break was awesome," followed by "are you kidding, I am on a plane going to CES the first day back from break," off I went.
Wow, was it interesting. Let me start with that big CES sign always displayed in the Venetian and the Sands corridor. You know, the one that everyone wants their picture in front of. The one where there is a continual mob of people flowing by. Below is the picture I took at 2:45 pm on day one of the show.
Do you see what is missing? PEOPLE!!! That was my first indicator that this was going to be really different. Next, I trudged down to Eureka Park, thinking, "if I get COVID at CES, surely it will be in the madness of the lower level of Sands in Eureka Park." Guess what? Nobody was there. It was so weird. Then it was upstairs to the main floor of Sands. This is what I saw:
Emptiness. Where there were to be booths, there was concrete floor. Plus, it was quiet. Very quiet. After cruising Sands, it was time for the dreaded bus line to get to LVCC. There are two pictures I took. The first is of the line getting into the bus. The second is the line up of buses waiting to pick up people. You will note that more buses are lining up than people waiting to get on the bus.
I made my way to LVCC and immediately went to Central. As a video person, this is the jackpot area. The big TVs. The most amazing tech. Central has been where it is "at." But as I entered, I heard people commenting on the LG booth. I was curious as the LG booth has always been the "over the top-are you kidding me-can this be real" technology. I turned the corner to enter, and this is what I saw:
Literally, the LG booth was one acre of plywood with small "stands" that each had a QR code. No TVs, no people, no signs. Just little stands with QR codes. It was crazy. And guess what? While not made of plywood, the Sony booth was basically the same. Sure some stalls were packed up, i.e., Samsung and Bosch, but so many were non-existent or "unique."
My adventure continued to North Hall. Typically it would have been radio and cars. With the addition of the new West Hall, only a portion of North was used. And it, too, was quiet. By the way, there was no line at the Starbucks next to North.
I finally made my way to the new West Hall. Wow, was it nice. But it was a long, long, long way from South Hall. From South to West is a 30-minute walk (South was not used this year). West is where the auto stuff was found. And in that hall, I found tech. I found transformation. I found cutting-edge things that are indicators of where the industry is moving. That will be the subject of my part two blog.
But before I leave you with my CES experience, I want to make sure everyone is comforted knowing the massage chairs were there in full force. And the technological innovation on the massage chairs was amazing. These things look awesome. But, as you might imagine, it was a COVID super spreader event as people were more than willing to jump into the chair to get the whole experience. I passed and, in doing so, was able to come home from CES without COVID. I am glad I went. It was fascinating.
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