I recently had the opportunity to attend CES 2019 (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s a vast (as in, GINORMOUS) collection of exhibits on smart homes & smart cities, autonomous driving, robotics & Artificial Intelligence, TV’s, cameras, drones, 3D printers, innovation and start-ups, and so much more. All kinds of new technology!
Not everyone can attend, so it was really quite eye-opening for me. I really enjoyed seeing all the super cool new technology being introduced to the world. What does new technology have to do with traveling, you ask? Well, let me show you!
Which Exhibits at CES 2019 Should You See?
When you first walk into one of the exhibit halls, you might be overwhelmed with how much there is to see. And when you look at the map of where all the exhibit halls are (Las Vegas Convention Center, Sands Expo Hall, and several satellite locations at various Las Vegas resorts), you realize it could take you all week to see it all! I was only there for two days, so I had to decide what was most important. Since I was focused on travel-themed technology, I looked for the exhibits on smart design, transportation, family and lifestyle, sports and fitness, cell-phone and camera accessories. I thought they would be the most applicable.
It’s also super fun to see the huge “Wow!” exhibits by Google, Sony, Canon, Amazon Alexa, and others. Perusing displays with giant-screen televisions that make you feel like you’ve been sucked into the scene because the image is so sharp…or watching holograms projected in thin air…or walking through smart homes that perform many tasks at the command of your voice (or your touch on a mobile device) — these are amazing displays of technology that will soon be commonplace in our society.
What Were the Must-Sees at CES 2019?
In my opinion, there are three things you should not miss at CES — the Innovation Awards Showcase, the Last Gadget Standing Show, and Eureka Park.
CES 2019 Innovation Awards Showcase
The Innovation Awards Showcase is a huge room filled with all the award-winning technology presented during the current year’s CES. You can see the Innovation Awards honorees of CES 2019 here. You might like some of these travel-related items…
- ‘RunninCity’ app that tells you all about a city as you run (or walk) through it
- The ‘Larq Bottle’ that provides instant water purification in a self-cleaning bottle
- ‘LifeInABox’ – the world’s smallest intelligent fridge for safely transporting insulin or vaccines
- ‘Ellcie Healthy’ glasses that help prevent drowsiness at the wheel
- CamToy’s ‘Laika” life companion for pets; it has a microphone and a speaker so you can interact with your pet remotely. It even dispenses treats!
Last Gadget Standing Show
I’m not even sure who chooses the nominees for this show, but all of the gadgets that compete for ‘Last Gadget Standing’ are unique. Most use new technology to do something that no one else is doing. The products highlighted here are not usually the ones that make big headlines. But they often fill an important niche or provide a humanitarian service that is unquestionably admirable.
Each gadget is introduced to the audience, often by the actual designer of the product. Sometimes there’s a really cool video to show how it works, or some kind of demonstration. Each contestant works hard to convince you to vote for their gadget. In between gadget intros, sometimes the emcee will ask trivia questions and give away free products to audience members(!). At the end of the show, the products are voted on by you. Yes, they use an audience “clap-o-meter” to measure the applause for each item. You can see all the 2019 nominees in this PCmag article.
Want to Know My Favorite from Last Gadget Standing?
My personal favorite was the Orii from Origami Labs. It’s a smart ring that lets you send or receive text messages, make calls, or use your voice assistant in a noisy environment just by putting your finger up to the side of your ear. I got to try it out myself later at the Origami Labs exhibit. It’s very cool, and it could also make it possible for people with hearing impairments to hear, through bone conduction. So, it was the Orii I clapped (and screamed) the loudest for!
But alas, it was not the winner. The CES 2019 winner was…(drum roll)…
***The Shure MV88+ Video Kit*** It’s an all-in-one solution for capturing video and sound — perfect for all you podcasters and YouTube video creators.
Make Time to See Eureka Park at CES 2019
One of my favorite exhibits was the Eureka Park section of CES at the Venetian. This is where you’ll find all the start-ups, and products are arranged by country. So you can walk around and see new products from small companies in Israel, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the United States, and more.
I walked through the French section, lovingly named ‘La French Tech’, and heard lots of French being spoken. (I studied French in high school and love to hear the language). At one booth, I learned about a new app you can use in Paris called ‘Paris Helpline’ — a new service designed to make Paris easy for visitors. It connects users with a City Helper (a real person) within seconds by call or chat. I can think of many times that would have been nice to have. I hope it spreads to other major cities.
In the Italy section, I met the ‘Woodie-Milano’ team, designers of beautiful wood wireless chargers and power banks. Hands down, these are the most beautiful power banks and chargers I’ve ever seen. When you’re traveling, functionality might be most important, but why not have a sleek AND functional accessory? I really can’t have too many chargers for all of my electronic devices: I loved the Woodie Hub that combines a power strip with a wireless charger, two AC sockets, and 2 fast-charging USB ports. It’s space-saving, too. What do you think?
Eureka Park also had some pretty cool luggage technology! There was one spinner with a wireless charger and USB charging ports, called the SkyValet. It also has a bluetooth lock, a magnetic front pocket for storing your laptop, and GPS tracking — so you can always know where it is. Some sizes even include a built-in weight scale. That’s pretty smart luggage if you ask me!
Another piece of luggage is designed for you to ride on it. Yep, it’s called the Modobag and you can ride it up to 8 mph right through the airport! I took a spin on it (but no video of me — sorry!) and it was a pretty smooth and comfortable ride. I could appreciate this option at the airport, for sure. They call it “the carry-on that carries you”.
I really enjoyed the Eureka Park section of CES. You’re actually meeting the people who brainstormed the ideas and engineered the products. It’s great talking to them and feeling their passion for what they have to offer.
Was There More at CES 2019?
Of course. If you attend CES, you will have no shortage of really cool things to see and experience. And there’s no way I can cover it all.
As far as travel-related items, I’ve highlighted many here. Probably the newest technology that will impact future travel was all the autonomous vehicle prototypes. Taxis, shuttles, and buses — all designed to be operated without a human driver. There were even simulations you could participate in where it showed you all the things you could do in your vehicle while NOT driving: make reservations, check your emails, purchase game tickets, etc.
There was also a lot of new camping technology with solar-powered chargers and lanterns, generators, car-top tents, backpacks with wireless chargers, and more. You get my drift, right? Whatever your technological need, someone is working on a solution.
What About the Practical Stuff?
Oh, you mean like, where to stay, where to park, where to eat, and how to get admission to CES? As you might guess, CES brings in thousands of attendees and vendors, so hotel rooms get scarce, and of course, that means the price goes up. We (my husband and I) booked our hotel three months ahead of time on Booking.com, and the price was considerably less.
Where to Stay
The Skyline Hotel & Casino in Henderson was only a 17-minute drive away from the Las Vegas Convention Center. It was quite nice, and rooms were spacious, with working fireplaces — and only $80/night with free wifi and parking. I’d definitely stay here again!
Where to Park
We just assumed we’d have to pay for parking anywhere we went at CES 2019. And you do have to pay to park at the Las Vegas Convention Center. So we checked the free shuttle schedule for CES to see which resorts it went to and chose the one with the cheapest parking fee. We thought that was Luxor, and that’s where we parked the first day ($10 all day).
The next day, we wanted to see exhibits at the Sands Expo Hall, attached to the Venetian, and that’s when we learned it was free to park at the Venetian.
Where to Eat
The full breakfast served at the Skyline Hotel restaurant was only $2.00 if you also bought a drink. Really nice waitresses and delicious food make this a super deal.
One night we ate dinner at Penn’s Thai House close to the Skyline Hotel. It wasn’t fancy, but the authentic Thai food was delicious, and the prices were great.
The last evening, we ate dinner at the Luxor Buffet. We didn’t like the price, but we opted for convenience and giving in to our growling stomachs. We had parked at the Luxor for only $10 and used the free CES shuttles to get to and from the LV Convention Center. By the time we got back to the Luxor, I was starving!
We purchased our lunches at CES. There were not a lot of healthy options, and prices were a little high, but it was worth it to not have to venture out to find another place to eat. And we were pleasantly surprised to find that the lines were not long. One day I had a salad with chicken; the next I had a barbecue chicken lunch combo.
What to Expect
- Wear comfortable shoes — you’re going to be walking a LOT! I logged 16,000 steps or more each day at CES.
- Some exhibits are very popular (like Google, for example) and there will be long lines to enter contests or giveaways.
- People who work at the exhibits are quite knowledgeable about their products, so ask all the questions you want. They love telling you about the new technology they represent.
- If you’re counting calories, try not to notice all the bowls of candy and treats set out to lure your interest. But do take advantage of free swag also being passed out — bags, decals, small accessories, etc.
- It would be a good idea to carry a water bottle and a snack, like a protein bar, with you. If you want to collect all the brochures and business cards that are passed out, carry some kind of bag that will hold it all (although there are plenty of free bag options at CES).
How to Get Admission to CES
Oh yeah, you want to know how to get admission to CES. Well, it isn’t easy. You must be affiliated with the technology world in some way. Or be a high-profile journalist covering technology regularly. (That’s not me!) My husband was able to attend as an employee of Hewlett Packard; I was able to attend because I have a vinyl lettering business. If you register before August of the previous year, admission is free. After that the price goes up to $100, then $200, and on the day of CES opening, the price is $300.
To Sum it Up
All I can say is I hope you get to go to CES someday. It’s a fun way to stay abreast of all the amazing new technology coming out to make the world (and even the traveling world) a better place! In the meanwhile, google some of the products I’ve highlighted and keep an eye on new kickstarters in the travel industry (they often end up at CES).
I’d love it if you would comment below…what caught your interest from this article?